Bradley Cooper caught backlash for wearing a large prosthetic nose to portray Leonard Bernstein in “Maestro,” his upcoming biographical romance film about the late conductor. The controversy sparked the latest discourse about “Jewface,” Hollywood’s stereotypical or inauthentic portrayal of Jewish people.
But the Anti-Defamation League, the notable Jewish organization fighting against bias and bigotry, has come to Cooper’s defense, stating that his depiction of Bernstein is not antisemitic.
“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 film, which premieres Sept. 2 at Venice Film Festival, centers on Bernstein’s tumultuous 25-year marriage to Felicia Montealegre, played by Carey Mulligan.
Bernstein’s three children, Jamie, Alexander and Nina Bernstein, also publicized their support for Cooper and “Maestro,” writing in a statement on Twitter: “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.”
They continued, “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.”
“Maestro” will serve as the spotlight gala film at New York Film Festival on Oct. 2. The movie will then have a limited theatrical window starting Nov. 22 before hitting Netflix on Dec. 20.
TMZ was first to publish the ADL’s statement.
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