The family of Leonard Bernstein has come forward to support actor Bradley Cooper amidst a dispute surrounding his biographical film about the late composer. The initial trailer for “Maestro,” directed and starred by Cooper, was unveiled earlier this week, sparking debate over Cooper’s appearance, specifically his nose size, which some individuals on social media believed perpetuated offensive Jewish stereotypes.
However, Bernstein’s family expressed their endorsement of Cooper’s use of makeup to enhance his likeness, noting that they were perfectly fine with it. The family also addressed concerns about not casting a Jewish actor for the role of the West Side Story composer.
In a statement posted online, Jamie, Alexander, and Nina Bernstein stated, “It breaks our hearts to see any misrepresentations or misunderstandings of [Cooper’s] efforts.” They added that Leonard Bernstein had a distinct nose, and Cooper’s makeup choice was acceptable to them, asserting their belief that their father would have agreed.
The family further addressed criticisms, seeing them as attempts to diminish a successful individual. They shared their observation that such practises often targeted their father.
The family attested to the respect, commitment, and love that Cooper demonstrated throughout the film’s production. They expressed their gratitude for the experience and eagerly anticipated the world’s reception of Cooper’s portrayal of Leonard Bernstein and his wife, Felicia.
The controversy has involved discussions about ethnic representation and the portrayal of Jewish characters in films. Tracy-Ann Oberman, an English actress, likened Cooper’s use of a prosthetic nose to blackface makeup. Binyomin Gilbert from the Campaign Against Antisemitism remarked on the portrayal of a non-Jewish actor with a prominent nose as a Jewish character.
“Maestro” is scheduled to premiere at the Venice Film Festival and will later debut on Netflix. Similarly, the upcoming film “Golda,” featuring Dame Helen Mirren as former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir, has been mired in comparable debates. Actress Maureen Lipman expressed disagreement with Mirren’s casting due to the character’s integral Jewish identity.