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Bradley Cooper’s Prosthetic Nose In Netflix’s MAESTRO Is Sparking Jewface Controversy

For using a prosthetic nose in Maestro, a biopic about American conductor and composer Leonard Bernstein, Bradley Cooper is drawing criticism. Bradley Cooper who is the director, co-writer, and star of the forthcoming Leonard Bernstein biopic has sparked a Maestro controversy due to his decision to wear facial prosthetics to portray Bernstein. It’s a debate that started when the first stills from the film came out in May 2022 and rapidly rekindled by the actor’s look in the teaser.

Maestro Controversy Put Into Context

Maestro controversy Mulligan

The ‘Jewface’ controversy comes from the derogatory stereotype about the appearance of Jewish people. Throughout history, an embellished or exaggerated nose depicted Jewish characters as ugly, evil or done in an extremely offensive way. Some have criticized Cooper for appealing to ‘Jewface‘ stereotypes by overdoing the facial feature and for placing a non-Jewish actor in a Jewish role.

Cooper plays the renowned composer in the film, who among other things, co-composed the score for West Side Story with lyricist Stephen Sondheim. The story focuses on Bernstein’s 27-year marriage to Montealegre, who passed away in 1978. Bernstein later passed away in 1990. However, most of the content of the movie or teaser gets overshadowed by the Maestro controversy. However, not everyone is offended. 

Bernstein’s Kids Put Maestro Controversy To An End

Maestro controversy cooper.

Jamie, Alexander, and Nina Bernstein, who are Bernstein’s children, stated on his official Twitter account on Wednesday that they are “perfectly” okay with Cooper using cosmetics to “amplify his resemblance” and that they are “certain that our dad would have been okay with it as well.” They cited both “the profound respect and yes, the love that Bradley brought to his portrait” of their parents as well as their personal participation in the movie.

Jamie Bernstein remarked in a June 2022 interview with Kveller that she thought the criticism of Cooper’s portrayal of her father was “ridiculous.” She said to the paper, “Yes, Bernstein was Jewish, and he had a huge nose. And what really is the issue here? Are we really going to claim that a Jewish actor had to be cast to represent [my father]?

The renowned composer is the focus of the film, as well as his romance with Felicia Montealegre (Carey Mulligan), whom he married in 1951. Maestro, whose producers include Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg, will be making its world debut at the Venice Film Festival at the end of this month. On Nov. 22, it will debut in a few theatres, and on Netflix on Dec. 20.

Online Backlash Still Strong Despite Bernstein’s Kids’ Approval

Social media users have been expressing their thoughts about the features of the actor. Their disapproval of the prosthetic’s size was evident while Cooper was filming the movie in 2022. Some posted pictures to demonstrate that Bernstein’s actual nose was not even close to that size. It’s worth noting that the film’s cast includes Sarah Silverman, an outspoken actor who has spoken out against the Jewface depiction in Hollywood for years. While Steven Speilberg, who himself is Jewish, co-produced the film. 

Maestro releases on Netflix on December 20, 2023.

What do you think about this Maestro controversy? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

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