'Last Tango' stole my star's youth, admits Bertolucci

The Italian film director Bernardo Bertolucci has expressed his regret for never apologising to Maria Schneider for making her do the taboo-busting sex scenes with Marlon Brando in his 1972 arthouse film, Last Tango in Paris.

The French actress died, aged 58, after a long illness earlier this week.

"Her death arrived too soon, before I could re-embrace her tenderly and tell her that I still felt close to her and ask her at least once for her forgiveness," Bertolucci said.

"Maria accused me of robbing her of her youth and only today I ask myself if she wasn't perhaps right," he told Ansa news agency.

The film portrayed a US businessman, Marlon Brando, engaging in a series of sexual encounters with an engaged Parisian woman played by Schneider. But the film gained notoriety for the scene in which he is seen grabbing a lump of butter from the fridge, apparently to facilitate anal intercourse.

The actress later said: "Brando and Bertolucci manipulated me, using me without thinking about me. I took years to forgive them."