Leonard Bernstein’s children are coming to Bradley Cooper’s defense as some are criticizing the actor’s use of a prosthetic nose for his portrayal of Bernstein, the legendary conductor and composer, in Maestro, which he also directed.
In a statement posted to X (formerly Twitter) Wednesday, Jamie, Alexander and Nina Bernstein addressed the controversy, saying that Cooper, who is not Jewish like the musician, included all three of them “along every step of his amazing journey as he made his film about our father,” and added that they “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 statement went on. “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.”
The trio went on to say that they believe “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.”
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Bradley Cooper Is Unrecognizable as Composer Leonard Bernstein in ‘Maestro’ First Look
Jamie, Alexander and Nina said they could “feel the profound respect” as well as “the love that Bradley brought to his portrait of Leonard Bernstein and his wife, our mother Felicia” throughout the making of the upcoming film.
“We feel so fortunate to have had this experience with Bradley, and we can’t wait for the world to see his creation,” they concluded the statement.
Asked about the controversy surrounding Cooper’s appearance in Maestro, the Anti-Defamation League told PEOPLE in a statement, “Throughout history, Jews were often portrayed in antisemitic films and propaganda as evil caricatures with large, hooked noses. This film, which is a biopic on the legendary conductor Leonard Bernstein, is not that.”
Cooper, 48, also co-wrote Maestro. He stars alongside Carey Mulligan in the recently released first trailer for the upcoming film, in which he plays the famed conductor and West Side Story composer and Mulligan, 38, portrays Bernstein’s wife Felicia Montealegre.
“Maestro is a towering and fearless love story chronicling the lifelong relationship between Leonard Bernstein and Felicia Montealegre Cohn Bernstein,” an official logline reads. “A love letter to life and art, Maestro at its core is an emotionally epic portrayal of family and love.”
Scott Stuber, head of global film at Netflix, told Variety back in December 2021 about Maestro, “We’ve done a lot of work on the makeup. We’ve done a lot of work on the voice. I’m excited to see someone so deeply focused on creating a story that means so much to him.”
The film also stars Matt Bomer, Maya Hawke, Sarah Silverman, Josh Hamilton, Scott Ellis, Gideon Glick, Sam Nivola, Alexa Swinton and Miriam Shor.
Maestro will make its world premiere at the Venice International Film Festival on Sept. 2. It will then run in select theaters in November before it hits Netflix on Dec. 20.