Maestro sparks ‘Jewface’ controversy over Bradley Cooper’s prosthetic nose

Maestro | Official Teaser

Bradley Cooper’s decision to don a large, prosthetic nose to portray Jewish composer Leonard Bernstein has been slammed as “antisemitic”.

The trailer for his new film Maestro has ignited debates around ‘Jewface’ – when actors use facial prosthetics to imitate Jewish stereotypes.

It will also star Carey Mulligan as Bernstein’s wife Felicia Montealegre, as well as Matt Bomer, Maya Hawke and Sarah Silverman.

Maestro will have a limited theater release on November 22 before coming to Netflix on December 20, but the trailer’s release on Tuesday has already sparked controversy.

@jh_swanson tweeted a side-by-side of Cooper and the real Bernstein and said: “This isn’t about making a non-Jewish actor look more like Leonard Bernstein; it’s about making a non-Jewish actor look more like a Jewish stereotype.”

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Sarah McGonagall wrote: “This feels especially sinister because Bradley Cooper’s nose is already the same shape and size, if not slightly larger, than Leonard Bernstein’s was.”

@oroligtoctopus posted: “I brought up Bradley Cooper’s prosthetic nose during dinner. My son left the room, and my husband launched his napkin.

“This isn’t a minor issue. This plays into a long-standing antisemitic trope. You can find examples of it on any social media platform.”

“Seriously. Bradley Cooper shouldn’t be playing Bernstein,” @AdamLenson said.

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“I have never said that Jews have to be played by Jews.

“But the idea of a queer Jewish legend being played by a straight white dude with a fake nose just makes me want to never watch a film again.”

@BurnishedAbbey wrote: “Bradley Cooper’s playing a Jewish man with some pretty offensive (and downright bad) prosthetics and the British Carey Mulligan is playing a Hispanic woman. Wonderful.”

Hollywood director Steven Spielberg was initially in talks to direct after Martin Scorsese left the project but he offered the job to Cooper after a screening of A Star is Born.

Fans have also unearthed comments from Jewish actor Jake Gyllenhaal who lost out on the role to Cooper despite it being his 20-year dream to portray Bernstein on film.

“No one likes to admit this, but we got beat at our own game,” he told Deadline in 2021.

“Sticking your neck out, hoping to get to tell the stories you love and that have been in your heart for a very long time is something to be proud of.

“And that story, that idea of playing one of the most preeminent Jewish artists in America and his struggle with his identity was in my heart for 20 some odd years, but sometimes those things don’t work out.”

However, he also wished Cooper success with the film and said he’s not bitter about missing out.

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