Bernardo Bertolucci, the multi-award-winning Italian director of movies like The Last Emperor, The Dreamers and The Conformist, has died at the age of 77. 

Flavia Schiavi, his publicist, said that Bertolucci died at his home in Rome at 7 a.m. on Monday 26 November, from cancer. For over a decade, he had been confined to a wheelchair after surgery on a herniated disc in 2003 was unsuccessful that rendered him unable to walk.

Bertolucci’s career graph has its high peaks and is full of notable movies like The Conformist and The Dreamers, but his most acclaimed and successful film, The Last Emperor, is still the highlight of his career. An adaptation of the autobiography of China’s last imperial ruler, Pu Yi, The Last Emperor won every Oscar category it was nominated in and swept the 1987 Oscars awards ceremony.

The Italian director fell into a bit of controversy last year related to the butter rape scene in his film Last Tango in Paris. Bertolucci and Marlon Brando did not inform lead actress Maria Schneider that there would be a rape scene being filmed, hoping to bring out her most natural reaction of horror and disgust. “I didn’t tell her what was going on, because I wanted her reaction as a girl, not as an actress,” the director said in an interview back in 2013.

“To obtain something I think you have to be completely free. I didn’t want Maria to act her humiliation, her rage, I wanted Maria to feel… the rage and humilation. Then she hated me for all of her life,” he added.

Schneider claimed the scene was never mentioned in the original script. Last Tango was the the last film she ever acted in and the actress went on to struggle with mental illness, substance abuse and even attempted to kill herself many times. At the time of the scene being filmed, Brando was 48 and Schneider was just 19. 

Bertolucci admitted he had behaved in a horrible manner with Schneider and that he felt guilty, but he never regretted putting her through it.