Bradley Cooper co-wrote, directed, and stars in the new Leonard Bernstein biopic Maestro. Cooper is not Jewish, and in the film’s trailer he can be seen wearing a prominent prosthetic nose, which led to allegations that Cooper was performing in “Jewface” upon the trailer’s release Tuesday. Now Bernstein’s children have issued a statement defending Cooper. “It happens to be true that Leonard Bernstein had a nice, big nose,” they write. “Bradley chose to use makeup to amplify his resemblance, and we’re perfectly fine with that.”
In their statement, the Bernsteins emphasize the level of care Cooper brought to their father’s story and how closely he included them in the process. Here’s the full message:
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. 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. 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 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.
– Jamie, Alexander, and Nina Bernstein
Maestro premieres 9/2 at the Venice Film Festival, arrives in theaters 11/22, and hits Netflix on 12/20.