Leonard Bernstein's family defend Bradley Cooper over prosthetic nose backlash
Bradley Cooper has been defended by the family of Leonard Bernstein after sparking backlash with his transformation into the acclaimed composer.
The 48-year-old is set to star as the conductor in an upcoming biopic, titled Maestro, with a teaser for the film released on Tuesday.
However, many slammed choices made in the footage, including adding a larger prosthetic nose to the actor – which some slammed as ‘Jewface’.
In a new statement from Bernstein’s children, Jamie, Alexander and Nina, they spoke out to defend Cooper ahead of the movie’s release.
‘Bradley Cooper included the three of us along every step of his amazing journey as he made his film about our father,’ it read.
‘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 of 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,’ they continued.
‘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 respected 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.’
The Netflix project aims to shed light on the life of the legendary conductor, with Cooper taking on the starring role.
He is also serving as director, and both produced and co-wrote the project, which is set to be released in select theaters in November, before landing on the streaming platform on December 20.
However, after the teaser was shared this week, some slammed the Oscar-nominee’s casting and his prosthetics, explaining that adding a larger nose to the character was fueling antisemitic stereotypes.
Former EastEnders actress Tracy-Ann Oberman was among those speaking out on social media, penning: ‘All actors should be able to play any part with their skill. However we are living in times where there is huge sensitivity and debate over ethnic & minority representation.
‘If Bradley Cooper green lights your film to play the Jewish composer Bernstein and you want him over a Jewish A-Lister who can equally play that role – then let Bradley Cooper’s acting be so magnificent and truthful that the character of Bernstein shines through what he already looks like.
‘If he needs to wear a prosthetic nose then that is, to me and many others, the equivalent of Black-Face or Yellow-Face.
‘Cillian could play Oppenheimer because he looks like Oppenheimer and could get the power of the man’s story and Jewishness through the power of his acting, ditto Tom Conti as Einstein didn’t have to ‘wear’ a nose.’
She continued: ‘If Bradley Cooper can’t do it through the power or acting alone then don’t cast him – get a Jewish Actor.
‘Bradley Cooper managed to play the ELEPHANT MAN without a single prosthetic then he should be able to manage to play a Jewish man without one.’
Despite the outcry, West Wing alum Joshua Malina told Page Six that he didn’t ‘take issue’ with Cooper’s casting.
‘Were an actor to don a big hooked nose to play Shylock, or a random, fictitious Jew, I think I’d have a problem with the propagation of a well-worn antisemitic stereotype,’ he told the outlet.
‘Jews do not, in fact, have bigger noses than other people do; Leonard Bernstein did. That’s the end of the story for me.’
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