Published Nov 26, 2018Italian filmmaker Bernardo Bertolucci, best known for films like Last Tango in Paris and The Last Emperor, has died at the age of 77. His publicist confirmed Monday that he passed away from cancer.
Bertolucci entered the film world at the age of 20, working as an assistant to family friend Pier Paolo Pasolini on Accattone. From there, Bertolucci went on to write and direct his first film, La Commare Secca, in 1962.
He served as a writer on Sergio Leone's Once Upon a Time in the West and later continued to work as a director on films like Before the Revolution, The Conformist and The Spider's Strategem.
Bertolucci gained international success with 1972's Last Tango in Paris, which led to him enlisting stars like Robert De Niro, Gérard Depardieu and Burt Lancaster for 1900.
The director gained access to film in Beijing's Forbidden City to shoot The Last Emperor, which went on to win nine Oscars in 1987, including Best Director and Best Picture.
He followed it up with films like The Sheltering Sky, Stealing Beauty and The Dreamers. His final film was 2012's Me and You.
His career was not without controversy, however, and the director came under fire in 2016 for admitting that he had not revealed details of a scene depicting sexual assault to an actress prior to filming.
In an infamous scene from Last Tango in Paris, Marlon Brando's character rapes his lover, played by Maria Schneider, with a stick of butter. Schneider was 19 at the time, and not informed of the scene ahead of time because as Bertolucci put it, he "wanted her reaction as a girl, not as an actress."