Leonard Bernstein's three children and the Anti-Defamation League defended Bradley Cooper's decision to use a prosthetic nose in the film
Cooper, 48, and his costar Carey Mulligan appeared on CBS Mornings Tuesday to discuss the new movie with host Gayle King, and Cooper shared during the interview that he initially considered not using the prosthetic for the movie.
“Nothing really catches me off guard. You never know what’s going to happen," he said, when asked whether the backlash to the prosthetic nose surprised him. "The truth is, I’ve done this whole project out of love, 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.”
"I thought, 'Maybe we don't need to do it, because we can take time off [preparations for the film],' " added Cooper, who also co-wrote and directed Maestro. "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."
Bernstein's children Jamie, Alexander and Nina shared a statement back in August shortly after the movie's first trailer released in which they reaffirmed their support for Cooper and his portrayal of their father, who died in 1990 at 72.
"It happens to be true that Leonard Bernstein had a nice, big nose," Bernstein's children wrote in the statement. "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."
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While speaking with King, Cooper recalled crying on the phone while speaking with Alex Bernstein to thank him and his siblings for releasing that statement.
"I couldn't believe it, but this huge emotional exhalation came out, and I just was crying so hard, I couldn't even thank him," Cooper said. "And he started crying. It was an incredible moment. Sometimes you don't even know what's going on, you know. I couldn't believe that gesture. It was very moving to me."
The Anti-Defamation League previously told PEOPLE it did not view Cooper's use of prosthetics in the film as antisemitic, saying in a statement: "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."
At a New York Film Festival press conference for the movie in October, Maestro's makeup designer Kazu Hiro said that Cooper utilized a nose plug within the prosthetic nose to make his voice sound closer to Bernstein's.
"We made a nose plug. He wanted to talk like and sound like Lenny," Hiro explained of Cooper's request to "change his voice." "Lenny's nose was wider than Bradley's, so I made it wider at the same time to change his nose shape and voice too."
Maestro is on Netflix Dec. 20.
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