How Jake Gyllenhaal lost out on the Leonard Bernstein biopic
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How Jake Gyllenhaal lost out on the Leonard Bernstein biopic

The trailer for Maestro, the upcoming Netflix film from Bradley Cooper about the famed US composer Leonard Bernstein, has been met with both anticipation and controversy.

Starring Cooper and directed by him in his first project since A Star is Born, the Netflix film has raised eyebrows due to Cooper’s portrayal of Bernstein, a Jewish figure. Not only is Cooper, a non-Jewish actor, playing Bernstein, but he has also donned a prosthetic nose for the role.

This decision led to accusations of “Jewface” – a term used to describe altering one’s appearance to portray a Jewish character. Given these allegations, some wondered why an actor of Jewish heritage wasn’t cast instead. Bernstein’s family, however, have made their support for Cooper and the film very vocal.

Among those considered for the role was Jake Gyllenhaal, who has Jewish roots on his mother’s side. Gyllenhaal had long expressed interest in creating a Bernstein movie. Bernstein’s estate declined his proposal and granted the film rights to Cooper.

With the unveiling of the Maestro trailer this week, Gyllenhaal’s comments from a previous interview with Deadline have been brought back into the discussion, where he spoke openly about the heartache of missing out on a project he’d been passionate about for nearly 20 years.

“No one likes to admit this, but, we got beat at our own game,” Gyllenhaal said. “There’s always another project. Sticking your neck out, hoping to get to tell the stories you love… is something to be proud of. In this business, if you’re lucky enough to stick it out for a while, we can easily forget that getting to tell the story isn’t the most important thing.”

Gyllenhaal concluded positively, stating, “I mean, this is our life. Gotta enjoy it. Bottom line… I wish them the best.” Fans can catch Maestro in select cinemas from November 24th, followed by a Netflix release on December 20th.