Following the August release of the Maestro trailer, comments concerning the fake nose immediately surfaced with some stating that cosmetic addition detracted from Cooper’s resemblance to Bernstein, while others felt it bordered on an antisemitic caricature (as Cooper is not Jewish, while Bernstein was).
When asked about the backlash during his CBS Mornings interview, the superstar actor stated “I’ve done this whole project out of love, and it’s so clear to me where I come from.” Adding that his “nose is very similar to Lenny’s, actually.” “I thought, maybe we don’t need to do it because we can take down time of prep. But it’s all about balance. And my lips are nothing like Lenny’s, and my chin… It just didn’t look right.”
Bradley went on to explain that while he was playing a younger Bernstein, the prosthetic was very thin and tight to his nose, but as the iconic composer aged, the fake appendage expanded “By the time he’s older, it’s the whole face.” “We had to do it, otherwise I wouldn’t believe he’s a human being.”
While Cooper was unable to speak about the movie during the SAG-AFTRA strike, Leonard’s three children rushed to his defense, stating “It breaks our hearts to see any misrepresentations of misunderstandings of his efforts. It happens to be true that Leonard Bernstein had a nice, big nose…. We’re also certain that our dad would have been fine with it as well.”
After reading the statement, Bradley contacted Alex, one of Bernstein’s children to thank him “I couldn’t believe it, but this huge emotional exhalation came out, and I just was crying so hard.” “I couldn’t even thank him, and then he started crying. It was an incredible moment. I couldn’t believe that gesture. It was very moving to me.”
Maestro opens in theaters on November 22 before hitting Netflix on December 20.