Bradley Cooper finally weighs in on Maestro prosthetic nose controversy

Actor’s use of a prosthetic nose for his portrayal of legendary conductor Leonard Bernstein has faced criticism

Inga Parkel
Wednesday 22 November 2023 06:17
Maestro trailer

Bradley Cooper has finally weighed in on the controversy he’s courted for wearing a prosthetic nose to portray American conductor Leonard Bernstein in the new biopic, Maestro.

Following the film’s first trailer release in August, the 48-year-old Silver Linings Playbook star faced criticism for using a fake nose “to amplify his resemblance” to the late Jewish conductor.

During a Tuesday (21 November) appearance on CBS Mornings, Cooper broke his silence on the debate, revealing that he had initially considered not wearing a prosthetic to enhance his features.

“I thought, ‘Maybe we don’t need to do it,’” he said. “But it’s all about balance, and, you know, my lips are nothing like Lenny’s, and my chin. And so we had that, and it just didn’t look right [without the prosthetic].”

Berstein’s children quickly came out in defence of Cooper, saying that he had “included the three of us along every step of his amazing journey as he made his film about our father”.

“It happens to be true that Leonard Bernstein had a nice, big nose. Bradley chose to use make-up 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 wrote in a joint statement.

A few days after their statement, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) also shared a message of support.

Bradley Cooper as Leonard Bernstein

“Throughout history, Jews were often portrayed in antisemitic films and propaganda as evil caricatures with large, hooked noses,” the ADL said in a statement to Variety. “This film, which is a biopic on the legendary conductor Leonard Bernstein, is not that.”

The next month, however, the Oscar-winning makeup artist who made Cooper’s prosthetic nose issued an apology.

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“I wasn’t expecting it to happen. I feel sorry if I hurt some people’s feelings. My goal was and Bradley’s goal was to portray Lenny as authentically as possible. Lenny had a really iconic look that everybody knows,” Kazu Hiro said at a press conference at the Venice Film Festival in September.

Maestro, which Cooper co-wrote, directed and stars in alongside Carrey Mulligan, has received mostly favourable critical reviews.

“Cooper’s Bernstein film is nicely affectionate – fake nose and all,” The Independent’s Geoffrey Macnab wrote in his four-star review. “Cooper is effortlessly charming in a film that’s been making headlines for all the wrong reasons, and his co-star Carey Mulligan is magnificent.”

Maestro is scheduled for a limited theatrical release on 22 November before becoming available to stream on Netflix from 20 December.

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