Bradley Cooper’s prosthetic nose to play Leonard Bernstein deemed ‘not’ antisemitic by Jewish rights group

23 August 2023, 11:17 | Updated: 23 August 2023, 13:41

Bradley Cooper (left) has been accused of ‘Jew Face’ in his portrayal of conductor Leonard Bernstein (right) for using a prosthetic nose to play the character
Bradley Cooper (left) has been accused of ‘Jew Face’ in his portrayal of conductor Leonard Bernstein (right) for using a prosthetic nose to play the character. Picture: Netflix / Getty

By Sophia Alexandra Hall

Footage of Bradley Cooper wearing a prosthetic nose to play Leonard Bernstein in ‘Maestro’ sparked controversy among the public.

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Last week, Netflix dropped a long-anticipated teaser trailer for Bradley Cooper’s new biopic Maestro about the life of composer and conductor, Leonard Bernstein.

After the trailer’s release, controversy was sparked over Cooper’s use of a prosthetic nose to play the legendary American musician, with accusations of antisemitism and Jewish stereotyping.

Now the Anti-Defamation League, an international anti-hate organisation based in the US which aims to stop the defamation of Jewish people, has defended the actor and director’s decision.

Bernstein was the son of Jewish-Ukrainian immigrants to the US. Cooper, who is not Jewish himself, has received backlash for portraying the film’s main character.

Defending Cooper’s casting and his use of a prosthetic nose, the ADL has released a statement first published to TMZ, saying: “Throughout history, Jews were often portrayed in antisemitic films and propaganda as evil caricatures with large, hooked noses.

“This film, which is a biopic on the legendary conductor Leonard Bernstein, is not that,” they clarified.

Read more: First ‘Maestro’ movie trailer starring Bradley Cooper as Leonard Bernstein finally released

Watch the teaser for Maestro

The ADL is not alone in supporting Cooper’s prosthetic nose choice. Bernstein’s three children, Jamie, Alexander and Nina, also released a statement following the release of the trailer, revealing that the three of them were involved in the film production process from the very beginning.

“Bradley Cooper included the three of us along every step of his amazing journey as he made his film about our father,” the statement posted to Jamie Bernstein’s Facebook account read.

“We were touched to the core to witness the depth of [Cooper’s] 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.”

Read more: Leonard Bernstein’s family defend Bradley Cooper: ‘Our dad would have been fine’ with prosthetic nose

A message from my sibs and me.

Posted by Jamie Bernstein on Wednesday, August 16, 2023

His children also said that their father would have been “fine” with the choice to use a prosthetic nose.

“It happens to be true that Leonard Bernstein had a nice, big nose,” his children wrote. “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.”

Addressing why ‘Jew Face’ accusations had been brought against Cooper by the public, Jamie, Alexander and Nina concluded that, “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”.