Bradley Cooper, the multifaceted American actor and filmmaker who captivated audiences with his 2018 directorial debut A Star Is Born, has unveiled his next directorial masterpiece titled Maestro. Much like A Star Is Born, the film teases a similarly ambitious, deeply emotional love story that, once again, revolves around music. For the uninitiated, Cooper will be playing the legendary composer Leonard Bernstein in Maestro.

Fans were expecting a brilliant acting showcase for Cooper and his co-star Carey Mulligan from the teaser. While the two actors seem to be bringing their A-game to the film, the teaser has, unfortunately, also sparked a controversy. The point of contention? Bradley Cooper’s ‘Jewface’, complete with a conspicuously prominent prosthetic nose.

A debate of sorts has put Cooper under the spotlight, albeit for reasons he perhaps didn’t anticipate. Critics and audiences alike have taken to social media platforms, accusing him of engaging in a form of ‘Jewface’ — a term drawing parallels with the practice of blackface. Cooper has been receiving a lot of flak for wearing a large prosthetic nose and subscribing to Jewish stereotypes, contributing to Hollywood’s long struggle with inauthentic portrayals of Jewish characters.

So, what does this controversy mean for the film? More importantly, is there any merit to the outrage? Well, here’s everything we know about Bradley Cooper’s Jewface controversy and how it might affect Maestro.

What is Bradley Cooper’s ‘Jewface’ controversy all about?

Bradley Cooper Jewface
Picture Credit: Jason McDonald/Netflix

Cooper portrays cultural icon Leonard Bernstein in the upcoming biopic. While non-Jewish actors have portrayed Jewish figures before, Cooper’s use of an obscenely large prosthetic nose is being slammed online, with critics condemning the actor’s decision as being inauthentic and akin to wearing Jewface. They are also deeming it as another example of the stereotypical portrayal of Jewish people in Hollywood. 

The term Jewface is also similar to Blackface, which is the infamous practice of non-Black performers darkening their faces to play black people. 

What are people saying about Bradley Cooper’s Jewface controversy?

Amidst this maelstrom, voices from the industry have also chimed in. Notable figures, including British actor and activist Tracy-Ann Obermann, have expressed their discontent. In a long Instagram post, Obermann pointed out how, if acting prowess alone cannot carry Cooper into the heart of his character, then perhaps the casting itself should be reconsidered.


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She wrote, “If [Cooper] needs to wear a prosthetic nose then that is, to me and many others, the equivalent of Black-Face or Yellow-Face … if Bradley Cooper can’t [play the role] through the power or acting alone then don’t cast him – get a Jewish actor.

Obermann also pointed out Cooper’s 2014 stage performance as John Merrick in The Elephant Man by stating, “Bradley Cooper managed to play the ELEPHANT MAN without a single prosthetic then he should be able to play a Jewish man without one.”

The Hollywood Reporter’s Daniel Fienberg didn’t mince his words either, labelling the prosthetic choice as “problematic” and painting the film’s approach as a form of “ethnic cosplay.”

Bernstein’s family reacts to Cooper’s Jewface controversy

However, amidst much criticism, the Bernstein family, the custodians of Leonard Bernstein’s legacy, have stepped forward in Cooper’s support. In a statement, they defended Cooper’s artistic decision, emphasising that their father’s distinctive nose was a defining feature. Their understanding stance underscores the complexities of interpreting historical figures while respecting their true essence. Jamie, Alexander and Nina Bernstein said the following in a statement on social media:  

“It happens to be true that Leonard Bernstein had a nice, big nose. We are also certain that our dad would have been fine with it as well.”

The Bernstein family also praised Cooper for the depth of his commitment to the project. “It breaks our hearts to see any misrepresentations or misunderstandings of his efforts,” they wrote.

They further added, “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.” 

Who was Leonard Bernstein?

Bradley Cooper jewface
Picture Credit: Twitter

The son of Jewish-Ukrainian immigrants, Leonard Bernstein is one of the greatest cultural icons to have ever existed. He was an American conductor, composer, pianist, music educator, author and humanitarian. He served as music director of the New York Philharmonic and won 16 Grammy Awards. He is also known for writing the iconic Broadway musical West Side Story. While Bernstein passed away in 1990, his enduring legacy remains, making him one of the best-known composers and conductors in history.

All we know about Bradley Cooper’s ‘Maestro’

Bradley Cooper Jewface
Picture Credits: Jason McDonald/Netflix

Maestro, a biographical romance chronicling the endearing love story between Leonard Bernstein and Felicia Montealegre, played by Carey Mulligan, promises to be a captivating exploration of love, family and the pursuit of artistic brilliance. The film will premiere at the esteemed Venice Film Festival on September 2 and later command the spotlight at the New York Film Festival on October 2. The film will then have a limited theatrical release starting November 22 before hitting Netflix on December 20.

Final Thoughts

Well, as the controversy rages on, one thing remains certain: Maestro has struck a chord that echoes well beyond the screen. Cooper’s film, a tribute to both life and art, invites us to think about the delicate balance between honouring history and navigating the evolving dynamics of representation in Hollywood.

Watch Maestro’s trailer below:

(Main and feature image credits: Jason McDonald/Netflix)

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the controversy around Bradley Cooper in Maestro?
– Bradley Cooper’s portrayal of the iconic Jewish composer Leonard Bernstein in Maestro, complete with a conspicuously prominent prosthetic nose, has sparked a controversy, with people criticising the actor for subscribing to Jewish stereotypes.

– When is the movie Maestro releasing?
The film is set to have a theatrical release on November 22 before hitting Netflix on December 20.

written by.

Kratagya Rathore

Senior Digital Writer, Growth, Augustman
Kratagya Rathore could possibly be your passport into the world of style, grooming, skincare, and mindful living. Fashion is as imperative to him as his daily 10,000 steps count. He is a raconteur, almost living his life in a musical; A social firefly who is also fluent in silence. A journalism grad, Kratagya has previously worked for Times Internet and The Times of India.
‘Maestro’: What Is Bradley Cooper’s Jewface Controversy All About?
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