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Bradley Cooper Defends Wearing Prosthetic Nose in ‘Maestro’ Biopic: ‘We Just Had to Do It’

Bradley Cooper Defends Wearing Prosthetic Nose in Maestro
Jon Kopaloff/WireImage; Jason McDonald/Netflix

Bradley Cooper is offering an explanation on why he chose to wear a prosthetic nose in the new Leonard Bernstein biopic, Maestro.

“My nose is very similar to Lenny’s actually, and so, the prosthetic is actually, like, a silk sheet,” Cooper, 48, said of the makeup during a Tuesday, November 21, interview on CBS Mornings. “And I thought, ‘Maybe we don’t need to do it because we could take down time of prep,’ but it’s all about balance.”

To achieve that balance, Cooper sported several prosthetic pieces on his face while portraying Bernstein at different points throughout his life in the film. “When he’s young, we had a prosthetic [around my nose] and then it just moves out so by the time he’s older, it’s the whole face,” Cooper explained. “So, we just had to do it, otherwise I wouldn’t believe he’s a human being.”

Cooper, who is not Jewish, has faced backlash for taking on the role of the notable Jewish musician, as well as perpetuating Jewish stereotypes by wearing a prosthetic nose. However, Bernstein’s children — Jamie, Alexander and Nina — defended Cooper’s casting via a lengthy X (formerly Twitter) statement earlier this year.

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“It breaks our hearts to see any misrepresentation 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,” the trio wrote on August 16. “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.”

Their statement continued: “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.”

Bradley Cooper Defends Wearing Prosthetic Nose in Maestro
Jason McDonald/Netflix

On Tuesday, Cooper said he found the siblings’ message “very moving,” sharing that he contacted Alexander not long after to thank him. “I called him on the phone and I heard his voice. And then, I couldn’t believe it, but this huge, emotional exhalation came out and I was just crying so hard, I couldn’t even thank him,” the actor shared. “And he started crying, and it was an incredible moment. I couldn’t believe that gesture.”

At the end of the day, Cooper isn’t caught off guard by the backlash over his portrayal of Bernstein, but he noted that he’s “done this whole project out of love and it’s so clear to me where I come from.”

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The film also stars Carey Mulligan as Bernstein’s wife, Felicia Montealegre, Matt Bomer as musician David Oppenheim, Maya Hawke as Jamie, Sam Nivola as Alexander and Alexa Swinton as Nina.

Maestro premieres in select theaters on Wednesday, November 22, and hits Netflix on December 20.

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