Cooper’s prosthetic nose in new movie has sparked criticism

Legendary composer Leonard Bernstein’s children defend Bradley Cooper’s prosthetic nose after Maestro film is criticised

Bradley Cooper in new film Maestro. Picture: Netflix
Bradley Cooper in new film Maestro. Picture: Netflix


After actor Bradley Cooper’s prosthetic* nose in the trailer for the upcoming Leonard Bernstein biopic* Maestro stoked criticism* of anti-Semitism*, the conductor’s* children have come to the defence of the actor.

The teaser trailer* for Maestro, which Cooper directs and stars in, debuted Tuesday and offered the first close-up look at Cooper’s makeup and performance as the great American composer and longtime music director of the New York Philharmonic*. Cooper, who is not Jewish, dons a prosthetic nose as part of his transformation* into Bernstein, who was.

Bradley Cooper in new film Maestro. Picture: Netflix
Bradley Cooper in new film Maestro. Picture: Netflix

To some, Cooper’s nose in the trailer seemed like the kind of outsizes caricature*that has been a regular feature of Jewish portrayals* throughout film history. The non-profit* group Stop Anti-Semitism called it “sickening.”

“Hollywood cast Bradley Cooper — a non-Jew — to play Jewish legend Leonard Bernstein and stuck a disgusting exaggerated ‘Jew nose’ on him,” the group tweeted on X*.

Bernstein’s three children — Jamie, Alexander and Nina Bernstein — on Wednesday issued a statement supporting Cooper, saying they were “touched to the core to witness the depth of (Cooper’s) commitment, his loving embrace of our father’s music and the sheer open-hearted* joy he brought to his exploration.”

Bradley Cooper as Leonard Bernstein on the set of Maestro. Picture: Netflix via JTA
Bradley Cooper as Leonard Bernstein on the set of Maestro. Picture: Netflix via JTA

“It breaks our hearts to see any misrepresentations* or misunderstandings of his efforts,” the statement said. “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.”

The real American composer Leonard Bernstein. Picture: Jean Pimentel/Kipa/Sygma via Getty Images
The real American composer Leonard Bernstein. Picture: Jean Pimentel/Kipa/Sygma via Getty Images

The Bernstein children added that “strident* complaints about this issue strike us above all as disingenuous* attempts to bring a successful person down a notch — a practice we observed perpetrated* all too often on our father.”

A representative* for Cooper declined to comment. Netflix, which is distributing the film, also wouldn’t comment.



  • prosthetic: an artificial body part, like a nose, that is made to replace a missing or damaged part
  • biopic: a biographical movie that tells the story of a person’s life
  • stoked criticism:
  • anti-Semitism: hostility, prejudice, or discrimination against Jewish people
  • conductor: a person who leads an orchestra or other musical ensemble
  • teaser trailer: a short video that offers a preview of a movie or show to generate interest
  • New York Philharmonic: one of the oldest and most prestigious orchestras in the United States
  • caricature: a picture or imitation of a person or thing that exaggerates certain characteristics
  • non-profit group: an organisation that doesn’t aim to make a profit but rather to achieve a specific social or humanitarian goal
  • X: formerly known as Twitter
  • transformation: a complete change in appearance or character
  • portrayals: representations or depictions of something or someone
  • misrepresentations: incorrect or misleading descriptions or presentations
  • amplify: to make something bigger
  • open-hearted: being sincere, genuine, and honest in one’s feelings or actions
  • resemblance: similarity or likeness in appearance
  • disingenuous: not being honest or sincere, often pretending to know less than one actually does
  • perpetrated: carried out or committed
  • representative: a person who acts on behalf of someone or something
  • strident: a tone of speech or expression that is strong, forceful, and sometimes perceived as aggressive
  • distributing: supplying or making something available to a wider audience


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  1. Who is Bradley Cooper and what role is he playing in the upcoming movie Maestro?
  2. Why did some people criticise Bradley Cooper’s portrayal of Leonard Bernstein in the movie trailer?
  3. How did Leonard Bernstein’s children react to Bradley Cooper’s portrayal of their father?
  4. What feature of Bradley Cooper’s appearance did some people find problematic in the trailer?
  5. Who is distributing the movie Maestro, and did they provide any comments about the situation?


1. What would Bradley say?
Imagine that you are Bradley Cooper, the actor who plays Leonard Bernstein. Write the comment that you think that he would make about the criticism.

Time: allow 20 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Ethical Capability, Drama

2. Extension
Who was Leonard Bernstein? Use your research skills to find out about his life and achievements. Use the information that you have found to write paragraphs that answer this question: What made Leonard Bernstein great?

Time: allow 60 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, History, Music

Defending choices in Maestro film
I understand what the public is saying, but as actors portraying a character, wouldn’t we want them to look as similar as possible for authenticity? Discuss and express opinions about the use of prosthetics in portraying historical figures in movies, and then write a short paragraph expressing your thoughts.

Find a partner to discuss the topic with. Choose who will start the discussion.

Partner 1: Share your opinion on Bradley Cooper wearing a prosthetic nose to portray Leonard Bernstein in the Maestro film. Do you think it’s appropriate or not? Why?

Partner 2: Listen to your partner’s opinion and then share your own thoughts. Do you agree or disagree with them? Why?

Discuss Together:

Share your reasons for your opinions and listen to your partner’s reasons. Try to understand each other’s viewpoints.

Individually, write a paragraph (5-7 sentences) about your opinion on using prosthetics to portray historical figures in movies. Include whether you agree or disagree with Bradley Cooper’s choice to wear a prosthetic nose in the Maestro film. Explain your reasons and consider the following questions:

– Is it important for actors to physically resemble the historical figures they portray?

– Can prosthetics help or hinder the portrayal of historical accuracy?

– How might different audiences perceive such choices in movies?

Edit and uplevel: After writing, read through your tribute aloud to yourself to make sure your ideas are clear, there are no omissions, and the writing makes sense. Next, you can check for any spelling or grammar mistakes that you can fix. Remember to be respectful of different opinions and focus on expressing your thoughts clearly.