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"Last Tango in Paris" director responds to rape scene backlash

“Last Tango in Paris” director Bernardo Bertolucci has responded to the renewed controversy around the butter rape scene. 

AP/United Artists

ROME -- Italian director Bernardo Bertolucci is clarifying details about the infamous butter rape scene in the “Last Tango in Paris.”

Bertolucci says the only novelty sprung on actress Maria Schneider was the butter - not the simulated rape, which he said was written into the script.

“Some people thought, and think, that Maria wasn’t informed about the rape,” said a Bertolucci statement carried by the ANSA news agency Monday.

“False! Maria knew everything because she had read it in the script, where it was described,” he said. “The only novelty was the idea of the butter.”

The controversial film made headlines in recent days after a 2013 interview surfaced in which Bertolucci said neither he nor Marlon Brando had told Schneider of their plans to use the stick of butter during the scene.

He said he and Brando came up with the idea on the morning of the shoot and decided not to tell Schneider because he wanted her to react “as a girl, not as an actress.” Bertolucci wanted her, he said, to feel “the rage and the humiliation.”

Schneider, who died in 2011, spoke often about the scene between her, then aged 19, and Marlon Brando, then 48, even saying in a 2007 Daily Mail interview that she “felt a little raped” by her co-star and director.

In the statement, Bertolucci said the controversy was “ridiculous.” He criticized commentators for being so “naive” as to think that what they see on screen actually happens.

“Those who don’t know that in film, sex is (almost) always simulated, probably also think that every time John Wayne fires, someone actually dies.”