Maria Schneider, still best known for her emotionally and physically revealing role as Jeanne in Bernardo Bertolucci’s Last Tango in Paris, has died in Paris at the age of 58.
She became an instant cinematic icon in 1972 when he starred alongside Marlon Brando as a young woman who becomes wrapped up in an intense affair with a grieving American widow. The film itself stirred both passion and controversy, becoming one of the most influential movies of its time. Though she and Brando remained friends after the difficult shoot, she didn’t harbour many happy memories of her time on set.
And though Last Tango remains her most memorable role (“It's amazing," she told the Mail in 2007. "I've made 50 films in my career and Last Tango is 35 years old, but it's still the one that everyone asks me about”) she actually appeared in several films before playing Jeanne.
Her other credits include 1975’s The Passenger, the 1996 version of Jane Eyre and 2008’s Cliente, which would become her final film appearance.
Her life was not an easy one: struggling with the challenges of such sudden fame, the 1970s saw her using drugs, dealing with depression and attempting suicide, while also seeing friends die from addiction. But in 1980, she was able to find her way back to some measure of stability. In more recent years, she ran a charity that helps aging actors and other performers who have hit hard times.
She died Thursday morning after a long illness.