Leonard Bernstein’s children have come to actor Bradley Cooper’s defense following online backlash to his upcoming portrayal of the acclaimed conductor.
Following the release of the trailer for “Maestro,” Cooper, who stars as Bernstein and also served as director, faced criticism for appearing to wear a prosthetic nose in the film, which some called antisemitic.
While some on social media argued the actor’s appearance plays into harmful Jewish stereotypes, Bernstein’s three children defended Cooper, who is not Jewish, in a joint statement posted to Instagram on Wednesday.
“Bradley Cooper included the three of us along every step of his amazing journey as he made his film about our father,” Jamie, Alexander, and Nina Bernstein said. “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 family went on to say that their father would have been fine with Cooper’s use of makeup to amplify his nose to resemble Bernstein more closely.
“It happens to be true that Leonard Bernstein had a nice, big nose,” his children said. “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. 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.”
“At all times during the making of this film, we could feel the profound respect and yes, the love that Bradley brought to his portrait of Leonard Bernstein and his wife, our mother Felicia,” his children added. “We feel so fortunate to have had this experience with Bradley, and we can’t wait for the world to see his creation.”
Cooper and Netflix, the film’s distributor, did not immediately respond to CBS News’ request for comment.