Bradley Cooper's prosthetic nose for Jewish conductor role not antisemitic, says Anti-Defamation League

August 22, 2023

An anti-hate organisation has defended Bradley Cooper's decision to wear a prosthetic nose to portray Jewish conductor Leonard Bernstein in his latest film.

The actor sparked a backlash when the trailer for his upcoming biopic Maestro showed him with a larger nose than his real one, with some accusing Cooper of reinforcing Jewish stereotypes.

But the Anti-Defamation League, which fights antisemitism and bias, said the decision to use a prosthetic was fair.

In a statement to US outlet TMZ, the international Jewish organisation said: "Throughout history, Jews were often portrayed in antisemitic films and propaganda as evil caricatures with large, hooked noses. This film, which is a biopic on the legendary conductor Leonard Bernstein, is not that."

Renowned composer Bernstein, who was born to Jewish parents, died in 1990. He wrote the music for West Side Story and won 16 Grammy Awards during his career.

The conductor's children came to Cooper's defence after he came under fire for his portrayal, saying their father had a "nice, big nose" and they were "perfectly fine" with the Hangover actor choosing to "amplify his resemblance" to Bernstein.

"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," they said in a statement.

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While some criticised 48-year-old Cooper for his depiction - with former EastEnders actress Tracy-Ann Oberman branding it similar to the use of blackface make-up - the trailer's release also led to a wider discussion about why Cooper was cast over a Jewish actor.

Maestro, which focuses on Bernstein's relationship with his wife Felicia Montealegre, played by Carey Mulligan, is scheduled to premiere at the Venice Film Festival on 2 September.

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