Austrian-born Schneider was asked by Visconti to reprise the role of the Austrian Empress Elisabeth, a role she had, as a teenager, played three times before in the wildly popular historical romance "Sissi" and its two sequels. ("Sissi" was the Empress' nickname.) She was not at all eager to revisit a character which she felt had caused her to be stereotyped as an actress and which she had worked hard to move beyond in her career. But Visconti - who was a close friend - assured her that in his film "Ludwig" - based on the life of Elisabeth's cousin, "Mad King" Ludwig II of Bavaria - Elisabeth would be presented very differently. And Schneider's characterization reflects the cynicism and disillusionment of the historical figure, one of the most beautiful and most elusive women of the nineteenth century.
Romy Schneider (23 September 1938, Vienna – 29 May 1982, Paris), Austrian-born actress, best known for her work in German-language and French cinema. Born into a family of actors, she began working in films in 1953 at the age of fifteen. Two years later she had her breakthrough role as the future Empress Elisabeth in "Sissi" which was quickly followed by two sequels, all filmed while she was still a teenager. In 1958 she and Alain Delon met and fell in love while working on a film together; a year later they became engaged. She decided to live and work in Paris, where she began to be cast in more prestigious projects and would begin the international phase of her career. Through Delon she first met Visconti, who directed the two in a French translation of John Ford's stage play 'Tis Pity She's a Whore. Schneider and Delon never married and split up in 1963 but remained close friends, even working together again. She later married and divorced twice and had two children; her son died in an accident at the age of fourteen. The following year, she was found dead in her Paris apartment. She had had drug and alcohol problems in the past and suicide was suspected, but a post-mortem found that she had died of a heart attack. She was forty-three.