Bradley Cooper Reacts to Controversy Over Wearing Prosthetic Nose in Maestro

Months after Bradley Cooper first received backlash for wearing a prosthetic nose while portraying composer Leonard Bernstein in Maestro, the actor explained the reason behind the decision.

By Brahmjot Kaur Nov 22, 2023 2:49 PMTags
Watch: Gigi Hadid’s Night Out Includes Bradley Cooper Cameo!

Bradley Cooper is sharing his side of the story.

Three months after the Oscar nominee received backlash for wearing a prosthetic nose while portraying legendary composer Leonard Bernstein in Maestro, Cooper is defending his decision.

"The truth is, I've done this whole project out of love," the actor said in a Nov. 21 interview on CBS Mornings. "And it's so clear to me where I come from—my nose is very similar to Lenny's, actually. The prosthetic is actually like a silk sheet."

The Silver Linings Playbook star came under fire this summer when footage was shared of him wearing a prosthetic nose while playing the West Side Story composer, who was Jewish.

"I thought, 'Maybe we don't need to do it because we can take down time of prep,'" Cooper added. "But it's all about balance, and, you know, my lips are nothing like Lenny's, and my chin. And so we had that, and it just didn't look right."

Bradley Cooper's Best Roles

Cooper, who also co-wrote and directed the Netflix film, first wore prosthetics in the middle of his face and slowly added more outward so that by the time Leonard was older, his entire face was covered with prosthetics. 

"We just had to do it," Cooper explained. "Otherwise, I wouldn't believe he's a human being."

The composer's children, JamieAlexander, and Nina Bernstein, also defended the film's decision to use prosthetics.

"Bradley Cooper included the three of us along every step of his amazing journey as he made his film about our father," they said in a statement posted to Instagram on Aug. 16. "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. It breaks our hearts to see any misrepresentations or misunderstandings of his efforts."

The trio emphasized that they fully supported Cooper's appearance in the film.

Jason McDonald/Netflix © 2023.

"It happens to be true that Leonard Bernstein had a nice, big nose," they continued. "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."

The Anti-Defamation League also stated that they didn't believe the prosthetic nose was antisemitic.

"Throughout history, Jews were often portrayed in antisemitic films and propaganda as evil caricatures with large, hooked noses," the ADL told People in August. "This film, which is a biopic on the legendary conductor Leonard Bernstein, is not that."

According to Netflix, the biopic tells the "towering and fearless love story chronicling the lifelong relationship" between Bernstein and his wife Felicia Montealegre Cohn Bernstein (played by Carey Mulligan).

Maestro—which also features Miriam Shor, Maya Hawke, Sarah Silverman and Matt Bomer—is in theaters now and premieres on Netflix Dec. 20.

For the latest breaking news updates, click here to download the E! News App