Bradley Cooper Addresses Controversy Over Fake Nose In Maestro

The actor was criticised for wearing a prosthetic nose to portray composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein in the forthcoming biopic.
Bradley Cooper
Bradley Cooper
Dimitrios Kambouris via Getty Images

Bradley Cooper has broken his silence about the controversy over the prosthetic nose he wears in Maestro.

Some critics wondered if Bradley was evoking antisemitic tropes by wearing a fake nose to more closely resemble the famous composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein, who was Jewish, in the biopic, which is set to begin streaming on Netflix next month.

But the Oscar winner told CBS Mornings he just didn’t feel right about taking on the part without making a physical transformation as well.

“I thought, ‘Maybe we don’t need to do it,’” he explained in an interview on Tuesday. “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.

Though Bradley faced criticism for his take on Bernstein, the Anti-Defamation League, an organisation that fights hate and antisemitism, defended his portrayal of the renowned musician in a statement in August.

Bradley Cooper wearing a prosthetic nose on the set of Maestro in June 2022
Bradley Cooper wearing a prosthetic nose on the set of Maestro in June 2022
MEGA via Getty Images

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

Bradley also had the backing of the Bernstein family.

In a statement on social media made at the time of the initial controversy, the composer’s children wrote: “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.”

Bernstein’s son and two daughters went on to describe the outrage as “disingenuous attempts to bring a successful person down a notch — a practice we observed all too often perpetrated on our own father”.

Leonard Bernstein – whose most famous works included the musicals Our Town and West Side Story, as well as the opera Candide – died in 1990 at the age of 72.


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