Leonard Bernstein’s children defend Bradley Cooper’s large prosthetic nose for his film, saying the Maestro controversy is unwarranted.
After catching flack for wearing a large prosthetic nose to play Leonard Berstein in the new biopic Maestro, the Anti-Defamation League is coming to Bradley Cooper’s defense. Discourse about Cooper’s portrayal of the world-famous conductor erupted after a trailer for the biographical romance arrived, showing Cooper’s version of Berstein in motion for the first time. Following the trailer, many said Cooper’s makeup promoted “Jewface,” Hollywood’s stereotypical or inauthentic portrayal of Jewish people, as defined by Variety. Now, the Maestro controversy is adding another perspective to the matter, thanks to the Anti-Defamation League.
Bernstein’s children immediately came to the actor’s defense, saying they worked closely with the filmmaker throughout production and loved his dedication to representing their father in a fair and accurate light. Now adding to the chorus of approval is the Anti-Defamation League, the Jewish organization fighting against bias and bigotry.
“Throughout history, Jews were often portrayed in antisemitic films and propaganda as evil caricatures with large, hooked noses,” the ADL told Variety. “This film, which is a biopic on the legendary conductor Leonard Bernstein, is not that.”
With Berstein’s children and the ADL on his side, Cooper’s portrayal is gaining the approval of individuals who would likely be the first to call him out if something was amiss. These approval examples could be enough to quell the flames of controversy, and the film can enjoy the lead-up to its September 2 Venice Film Festival premiere.
Bradley Cooper is undergoing quite the transformation to portray the legendary American conductor Leonard Bernstein in his Maestro biopic. A trailer for the film dropped on Tuesday, featuring Cooper as the master of ceremonies himself. Unfortunately, there’s been some backlash about Cooper’s look for the film, with audiences taking umbrage with the actor’s sizeable prosthetic nose, which makes him resemble Bernstein. A tiny, but vocal group of people who watched the trailer say Cooper’s choice of prosthetic is an example of Hollywood’s stereotypical or inauthentic portrayal of Jewish people, known as “Jewface.” However, Bernstein’s children say the complaints related to the Maestro controversy are unwarranted and have issued a response to the backlash.
“Bradley Cooper included the three of us along every step of his amazing journey as he made his film about our father,” wrote Jamie, Alexander, and Nina Bernstein on Bernstein’s Twitter account. “We were touched to the core to witness the depth of his commitment, his loving embrace of our father’s music, and the sheer open-hearted joy he brought to his exploration.”
They continued, “It breaks our hearts to see any misrepresentations or misunderstandings of his efforts. It happens to be true that Leonard Bernstein had a nice, big nose. Bradley chose to use makeup to amplify his resemblance, and we’re perfectly fine with that. We’re also certain that our dad would have been fine with it as well. Any strident complaints around this issue strike us above all as disingenuous attempts to bring a successful person down a notch — a practice we observed all too often perpetrated on our own father. At all times during the making of this film, we could feel the profound respect and yes, the love that Bradley brought to his portrait of Leonard Bernstein and his wife, our mother Felicia. We feel so fortunate to have had this experience with Bradley, and we can’t wait for the world to see his creation.”
(3/6) It happens to be true that Leonard Bernstein had a nice, big nose. Bradley chose to use makeup to amplify his resemblance, and we’re perfectly fine with that. We’re also certain that our dad would have been fine with it as well. pic.twitter.com/37tkIt016S
— Leonard Bernstein (@LennyBernstein) August 16, 2023
Maestro plans to make a splash when it premieres in competition at the 80th Venice Film Festival on September 2 and the New York Film Festival on October 2. Those waiting to experience the film outside the festival circuit can experience a limited engagement in theaters starting November 22 before the film makes its December 20 Netflix debut.
What do you think of the Maestro controversy? Do you consider the uproar moot after the conductor’s children have cleared the air? Let us know in the comments section below.