The French actress was just 19 when she made the film, in which she had graphic sex scenes with Marlon Brando, then 48. The film focuses on a French girl, who's ambivalent about her filmmaker-fiancé and his project, and a middle-aged American suffering the grief of his wife's suicide. They meet to have anonymous, no-strings-attached sex in a mostly unfurnished, run-down apartment.
The movie was highly controversial at the time, and several countries banned it. Time and Newsweek did cover stories, and it provoked the most lavish praise The New Yorker's Pauline Kael ever heaped on a film, writing that it had "altered the face of an art form. This is a movie people will be arguing about for as long as there are movies."
The film received Academy Award nominations for Bertolucci and Brando, and made Schneider a worldwide star.
Years later, Schneider said she felt humiliated by the sex scenes, adding that she "felt a little raped, both by Marlon and by Bertolucci."
The daughter of French actor Daniel Gelin, she last appeared in 2008's Cliente.