Maria SchneiderIf you've seen Last Tango in Paris, you know who Maria Schneider is - the uninhibited younger woman to Marlon Brando's older businessman. Or you might know her from The Passenger, in which she is again paired with an older American star - this time it's Jack Nicholson, but here Schneider is intelligent in an offhand sort of way, and stays dressed pretty much the entire time. She was only 20 when she made Last Tango, and barely 23 when she costarred with Nicholson; in both films, her performance is remarkable. But then she disappeared, at least from American screens. How could someone so lovely and talented simply give up on the movies?

It turns out that Schneider only left Hollywood, not acting; she's been working in Europe (both on TV and in the movies) fairly regularly over the past 30 years, but still bears the scars of those earlier, frantic years. She couldn't, she says, "bear the fame...I didn't like the way people looked at me when I was going to a restaurant...And I'm someone quite simple and free. I don't like to be bothered by paparazzi." In addition, she still feels "violated" by her work with Bernardo Bertolucci and says she only got through Last Tango because of Brando's warmth and generosity on the set. Partially as a result of the pressures of the attention, she (like many young actors) turned to drugs as an escape. By leaving Hollywood, however, Schneider successfully escaped her demons, and has been clean for 20 years.

With the pending re-release of The Passenger, a new American audience will get to experience the unusual charm and intelligence of her performance in the film; it's too bad that we don't get to see more of her.
categories Movies, Cinematical