Leonard Bernstein’s kids defend Bradley Cooper’s ‘Maestro’ prosthetic: ‘Our dad would have been fine’

Bradley Cooper in a black T-shirt, posing at the red carpet for "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3."
Bradley Cooper plays legendary composer Leonard Bernstein in Netflix’s upcoming film “Maestro.”
(Jordan Strauss / Invision / Associated Press)

Leonard Bernstein’s family is rallying behind Bradley Cooper after he faced online criticism for his appearance in Netflix’s upcoming film “Maestro.”

Directed by Cooper, “Maestro” tracks the legendary composer’s relationship with wife, Felicia (Carey Mulligan). Netflix released the first teaser for the film on Tuesday, giving viewers a glimpse at Cooper’s portrayal.

While some social media users were excited for the upcoming project, others took notice of Cooper’s altered appearance.

Black-and-white photo of Carey Mulligan smiling wide and leaning on Bradley Cooper's back.
Carey Mulligan as Felicia Montealegre and Bradley Cooper as Leonard Bernstein in Netflix’s “Maestro.”

“Did the prosthetics team even try,” Twitter (now X) user @ghoulhag wrote Tuesday, sharing pictures of Bernstein and Cooper.

More X users zeroed in on Bradley’s use of makeup to further define his nose for “Maestro.” University of Chicago doctoral candidate Joel Swanson alleged that Cooper’s transformation was “about making a non-Jewish actor look more like a Jewish stereotype.”

Antisemitism organization StopAntisemitism criticized Cooper — who is not Jewish — playing Bernstein, who was Jewish. The organization blasted Hollywood for putting a “disgusting exaggerated” nose on the actor.

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“Sickening,” StopAntisemitism tweeted.

Representatives for Netflix did not immediately respond to The Times’ request for comment Wednesday.

As backlash continued to grow, Bernstein’s three children — Jamie, Alexander and Nina Bernstein — came to Cooper’s defense Wednesday. In a statement shared to the late composer’s X account, they detailed the “amazing journey” of working with Cooper on “Maestro.”


“We were touched to the core to witness the depth of his commitment, his loving embrace of our father’s music, and the sheer open-hearted joy he brought to his exploration,” the statement said. “It breaks our hearts to see any misrepresentations or misunderstandings of his efforts.”

The statement continued: “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. We’re also certain that our dad would have been fine with it as well.”

Bernstein’s children dismissed the social media controversy as “disingenuous attempts to bring a successful person down a notch.” They also lauded Cooper for his commitment to the film, and his respect for the conductor and his family.

Bernstein, best known for co-composing the Broadway hit “West Side Story,” died Oct. 14, 1990 of complications of progressive lung failure. He was 72.

“We feel so fortunate to have had this experience with Bradley, and we can’t wait for the world to see his creation,” the statement concluded.

“Maestro” is scheduled for release in select theaters on Nov. 22 and comes to Netflix on Dec. 20.