Bradley Cooper reveals he is classically trained and ‘has spent hundreds of hours conducting’

12 January 2022, 17:20 | Updated: 14 January 2022, 16:04

Bradley Cooper has spent “hundreds of hours conducting”.
Bradley Cooper has spent “hundreds of hours conducting”. Picture: Alamy

By Sophia Alexandra Hall

Bradley Cooper, who is directing and starring in the upcoming biopic about great composer Leonard Bernstein, reveals his ‘obsession with conducting classical music’.

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In Bradley Cooper’s directorial debut, A Star is Born, he took six months of guitar and piano lessons to prepare for his role title role in the film.

However, many people don’t know that Bradley is actually a trained classical musician.

Before he came to our screens, Cooper played the double bass, took singing lessons with operatic tenor Mark Nicolson, and “spent hundreds of hours...[practising] conducting”.

In an interview on CBS’s The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Cooper was asked about his second directorial project Maestro, about the late composer Leonard Bernstein – and revealed that he was so taken with conducting in his childhood, that at the age of 8 he, “asked Santa Claus for a [conducting] baton”.

Read more: Bradley Cooper’s Leonard Bernstein biopic is officially coming to Netflix

Set to premiere in late 2022 on Netflix, Maestro will see Cooper star alongside actress, Carey Mulligan, who will play Bernstein’s wife, the chilean-born actress, Felicia Montealegre.

The director revealed on the Colbert Show that, “I had this obsession with classical conducting. In grad school for my MFA, I created the character of a conductor, and wrote a monologue for him".

He admits his childhood obsession with the profession probably came from old-school cartoons saying, “I think [I] was probably [inspired by] Bugs Bunny, and Tom and Jerry”.

Read more: Cartoonist breaks down how a whole generation learned classical music from watching old cartoons

Originally a biopic which Steven Spielberg was going to direct, Maestro became Cooper’s project after Spielberg watched the actor’s directly debut, A Star is Born.

Cooper told Colbert, “[Spielberg] happened to know I had this obsession with conducting, and he told me about this project called Maestro.

“I asked him, ‘are you really gonna direct this?’ And he said, ‘I'm probably not going to direct this’.

“So, I asked him to watch A Star is Born, and I said, ‘if you like it, can I research Leonard Bernstein and figure out what the story could be?’”

Spielberg agreed, and while watching a colouring of A Star is Born, he was so impressed by the film that Spielberg told Cooper, “You’re ****ing directing Maestro”.

Read more: Look at this wonderful footage of Steven Spielberg and John Williams composing music for E.T. together

Steven Spielberg and Bradley Cooper
Steven Spielberg and Bradley Cooper. Picture: Alamy

We’re thrilled to hear that Cooper is so passionate about conducting, just as the titular character of this biopic, Leonard Bernstein was, and we look forward to seeing how Cooper’s “obsession” for classical conducting translates onto the screen.