Bradley Cooper Accused of ‘Ethnic Cosplay’ Over Leonard Bernstein Role – Newsweek

Posted By on June 2, 2022

Bradley Cooper's transformation to portray legendary composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein in the film Maestro has sparked praise onlineand criticism from those who believe a Jewish man should have been cast in the role.

Streaming giant Netflix, which will be releasing the movie, shared first look photos on Twitter on Monday of Cooper as Bernstein, showing the actor looking unrecognizable thanks to the help of makeup to make him appear significantly older.

Cooper, who is also directing the project, also appeared to have slightly darker skin in the images, while one feature that stood out was the prosthetic nose he was pictured sporting in a bid to further resemble Bernstein.

While there was much praise on Twitter for Cooper's transformation for the film, which started shooting earlier in May, many others asked why the role could not have been given to a Jewish actor, given Bernstein's own background.

Responding to Netflix's photos, which also showed Carey Mulligan in character as Bernstein's wife, Felicia Montealegre, Daniel Fienberg, who serves as Chief Television Critic for The Hollywood Reporter, accused the stars of "ethnic cosplay."

"Sigh," tweeted Fienberg. "My question, 'How many pounds of latex would it take to make Bradley Cooper into an elderly Jewish man?' was supposed to be rhetorical.

"The answer, BTW, is 'Enough latex that somebody should probably find it a hair problematic.'"

Fienberg added in a follow-up tweet: "My critiquing of Bradley Cooper converting to Latex Judaism caused me to fail to even notice Carey Mulligan as Leonard Bernstein's first wife, who was Chilean-Jewish. That's a LOT of ethnic cosplay for one movie."

Montealegre, who passed away in 1978, was raised Catholic, later converting to Judaism after marrying Bernstein in 1951, per Meryle Secrest's 1994 biography Leonard Bernstein: A Life.

A number of other Twitter users chimed in on the matter, with one saying: "anybody else weirded out by bradley cooper donning enormous [amounts] of makeup and prosthetics to pretend to be an elderly jewish man? surely there are elderly jewish actors that could've played that role?"

Said another: "Instead of radically transforming Bradley Cooper through prosthetics, why not just hire an actual older Jewish man?"

Echoing the sentiment, another wrote: "Something about casting Bradley Cooper to play a famous Jewish man and giving him that prosthetic nose is not sitting right with me at all... it's giving Zoe Saldana as Nina Simone."

Newsweek has reached out ot representatives of Cooper and Netflix for comment.

Bernstein, who wrote the score for West Side Story, was born in Lawrence, Massachusetts, in 1918 to Russian Jewish immigrants.

He was the youngest conductor ever to lead the New York Philharmonic, in addition to being the first U.S. conductor to rise to international fame, leading a 1953 performance of Medea at Italy's renowned opera house, La Scala.

The celebrated composer passed away on October 14, 1990, aged 72,

As well as Cooper and Mulligan, Maestro will also feature Succession actor Jeremy Strong as journalist and biographer John Gruen. A release date is yet to be announced.

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Bradley Cooper Accused of 'Ethnic Cosplay' Over Leonard Bernstein Role - Newsweek

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