Bradley Cooper’s ‘Maestro’ Antisemitism Controversy Explained


Bradley Cooper Maestro Controversy Explained

Bradley Cooper as Leonard Bernstein in ‘Maestro’
Jason McDonald/Netflix

Bradley Cooper’s portrayal of Leonard Bernstein in Maestro has sparked backlash — and antisemitic allegations.

The trailer for the upcoming Netflix film — a biopic of the legendary composer — featured Cooper, 48, wearing a prosthetic nose while portraying the late Jewish musician. Following the teaser’s release on Tuesday, August 15, many viewers took to social media to decry the decision and accuse Cooper of antisemitism. (Large noses are often used in stereotypical depictions of Jewish people.)

Bernstein’s children, however, defended the Oscar winner’s decision, sharing a lengthy Twitter statement on Wednesday, August 16, in which they stated they were “perfectly fine” with Cooper’s choice to emulate their dad’s “nice, big nose.”

“Bradley Cooper included the three of us along every step of his amazing journey as he made his film about our father. 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. It breaks our hearts to see any misrepresentations or misunderstandings of his efforts,” the late artist’s kids — Jamie, Alexander and Nina Bernstein — penned.

“It happens to be true that Leonard Bernstein had a nice, big nose,” they continued. “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.”

The siblings concluded: “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.”

Maestro follows Bernstein and his relationship with wife Felicia Montealegre (Carey Mulligan). The highly-anticipated movie — which is set to be released in September — also stars Matt Bomer, Jeremy Strong, Michael Urie, Sarah Silverman and more. Their children will also be depicted on screen, with Maya Hawke playing Jamie, Alexa Swinton as Nina and Sam Nivola as Alexander.

Cooper — who also directed and wrote the film — was deeply inspired by the Bernstein family, he told The Hollywood Reporter in 2022.

“I just did all this research about this incredible family, the Bernsteins, and Felicia Montealegre, [Leonard’s] wife. Their relationship — fascinating — and the kids. They’re so articulate about their feelings,” he gushed. “There’s the movie; a movie about marriage, a movie about family. That’s it. Why is it nuclear? Because it’s this f–king music. Music is nuclear. I had a secret weapon in A Star Is Born. It was Lady Gaga. The secret weapon I have in this movie is f–king Leonard Bernstein and Gustav Mahler. The music!”


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