The upcoming film Maestro—which casts stage and screen star Bradley Cooper as the late, Tony-winning composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein, who was Jewish—has come under fire for the use of prosthetics for its leading man.
Critics say the use of prosthetics to alter Cooper's facial features, including his nose, perpetuates decades of anti-Semitic stereotypes.
Amid the backlash, Bernstein's children, Jamie, Alexander, and Nina, released a statement supporting the film and star Cooper, who also directs.
"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. 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.
"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."
Chronicling the lifelong relationship between cultural icon Bernstein and Felicia Montealegre Cohn Bernstein, Maestro will arrive on Netflix December 20 and in select theatres November 22.
Bernstein and Cohn wed in 1951, despite Bernstein's homosexuality being somewhat of an open secret. Twenty-five years later, Bernstein left the marriage to be with a male partner before returning to his marriage a year later when Montealegre was diagnosed with cancer. He was with her until she died in 1978.