Bradley Cooper has broken his silence about the controversy over the prosthetic nose he wears in “Maestro.”
Some critics wondered if Cooper was evoking antisemitic tropes by wearing a fake nose to more closely resemble the famous composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein, who was Jewish, in the biopic, which is set to begin streaming on Netflix on Dec. 20.
But the Oscar winner told “CBS Mornings” he just didn’t feel right about taking on the part without making a physical transformation as well.
“I thought, ‘Maybe we don’t need to do it,’” he explained in an interview on Tuesday. “But it’s all about balance, and, you know, my lips are nothing like Lenny’s, and my chin. And so we had that, and it just didn’t look right” without the prosthetic.
Though Cooper faced criticism for his take on Bernstein, the Anti-Defamation League, an organization that fights hate and antisemitism, defended his portrayal of the renowned musician in a statement in August.
Bradley Cooper wearing a prosthetic nose on the set of "Maestro" on June 6, 2022, in New York City.
“Throughout history, Jews were often portrayed in antisemitic films and propaganda as evil caricatures with large, hooked noses,” it said. “This film, which is a biopic on the legendary conductor Leonard Bernstein, is not that.”
Cooper also had the backing of the Bernstein family.
In a statement on Twitter made at the time of the initial controversy, the composer’s children wrote, “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.”
His son and two daughters went on to describe the outrage as “disingenuous attempts to bring a successful person down a notch — a practice we observed all too often perpetrated on our own father.”
Bernstein, whose most famous works included the musicals “Our Town” and “West Side Story” and the opera “Candide,” died in 1990 at age 72.