The three children of the late Jewish composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein have defended Bradley Cooper‘s portrayal of their father in the upcoming Netflix film Maestro despite claims of ‘Jewface’ due to his prosthetic nose.
Cooper, who also directed the film, has faced a backlash from the Jewish community after the trailer arrived on August 14th. The cast includes Carey Mulligan as his wife Felicia Montealegre, Maya Hawke as their daughter, Sarah Silverman as Bernstein’s sister, and additional actors Gideon Glick, Gabe Fazio, Eric Parkinson, William Hill, Nick Blaemire, Oscar Pavlo and Tim Rogan
British actor and prominent Jewish voice Tracy-Ann Oberman wrote on Instagram: “All actors should be able to play any part with their skill. However, we are living in times where there is huge sensitivity and debate over ethnic and minority representation.”
She continued: “If Bradley Cooper green lights your film to play the Jewish composer Bernstein and you want him over a Jewish A-lister who can equally play that role – then let Bradley Cooper’s acting be so magnificent and truthful that the character of Bernstein shines through what he already looks like.”
Now, in a joint statement, Bernstein’s family children Nina, Alexander and Jamie have said: “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 continue: “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.
The Bernstein family conclude by stating: “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.”
See their Instagram post below.