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Bradley Cooper supported by Anti-Defamation League amid ‘Jewface’ criticism

Bradley Cooper (Ian West/PA) (PA Archive)
Bradley Cooper (Ian West/PA) (PA Archive)

Bradley Cooper’s use of a prosthetic nose for his portrayal of Jewish composer Leonard Bernstein in the forthcoming biopic Maestro has been defended by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).

The 48-year-old actor, who is not of Jewish descent, received backlash online and was accused of “fuelling antisemitic stereotypes” after the film’s first trailer release last week.

However, the ADL, a Jewish organisation fighting against all forms of anti-Semitism and bias, has come out in defence of Cooper and insisted the use of the prosthetic nose is not an “evil caricature”.

In a statement shared with Variety, the organisation wrote: “Throughout history, Jews were often portrayed in anti-Semitic 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.”

The ADL public support comes shortly after Bernstein’s three children also defended Cooper’s use of “make-up to amplify his resemblance” to the late composer in an upcoming film.

Cooper portraying Leonard Bernstein alongside Carey Mulligan as  his wife, Felicia Montealegre Bernstein, in the trailer (Jason McDonald/Netflix)
Cooper portraying Leonard Bernstein alongside Carey Mulligan as his wife, Felicia Montealegre Bernstein, in the trailer (Jason McDonald/Netflix)

In a statement from Jamie, Alexander and Nina Bernstein shared last week, they said: “Bradley Cooper included the three of us along every step of his amazing journey as he made his film about our father.

“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.

“It happens to be true that Leonard Bernstein had a nice, big nose. Bradley chose to use make-up 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. We feel so fortunate to have had this experience with Bradley, and we can’t wait for the world to see his creation.”

Last week, Netflix posted the trailer for the new movie, which will depict the relationship between Bernstein and his wife, the Costa Rican-born actress Felicia Montealegre Bernstein (Carey Mulligan).

In the teaser, Cooper looks aged as he depicts the composer at different moments of his life. Bernstein, who was born to Jewish parents, died aged 72 in 1990.