Bradley Cooper, renowned for his roles in multiple Oscar-nominated films, is at the helm of the Leonard Bernstein biopic “Maestro,” taking on the lead role and also involved in writing, directing, and producing the film.
However, the film has encountered controversy regarding Cooper’s use of a prosthetic nose to resemble the composer, which some have labeled as “Jewface,” igniting discussions about representation and casting choices.
Contrary to Leonard Bernstein’s Jewish heritage, Bradley Cooper is not Jewish. He hails from Italian and Irish ancestry and was raised in a Roman Catholic household. Cooper has spoken about the influence of his parents on his upbringing, expressing admiration for his father and the values instilled in him.
The debate surrounding Cooper portraying a figure of Jewish heritage in “Maestro” brings attention to the issue of non-Jewish actors assuming such roles. This casting choice echoes similar discussions in the industry, such as Cillian Murphy playing J. Robert Oppenheimer, who was Jewish, in a notable film.
Bernstein’s children, Jamie, Alexander, and Nina Bernstein, have publicly expressed their approval of Cooper’s decisions in the film, affirming that their father would have also supported these choices. They criticized the criticism as attempts to diminish a successful individual, which they witnessed happening to their father.
“Maestro” has hit theaters in a limited release and is set to debut on Netflix on December 20, allowing audiences to engage with the portrayal and interpretation of Leonard Bernstein’s life directed by Bradley Cooper.