The offspring of composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein are supporting actor Bradley Cooper’s portrayal of their late father in an upcoming movie.
Following the release of the initial trailer for “Maestro” this week, some critics on social media expressed concerns that the makeup worn by Cooper to depict Bernstein in the film reinforced hurtful antisemitic stereotypes.
Other critics raised questions about the casting, considering Bernstein’s background. He was born in Massachusetts to Jewish immigrants from Russia. Cooper is not known to have Jewish ancestry.
Bernstein’s three children, Jamie, Alexander, and Nina, took to Instagram to share a statement regarding the backlash Cooper has faced since the trailer’s release on Wednesday.
“Bradley Cooper included the three of us in every step of his incredible journey as he crafted his film about our father,” their statement reads. “We were deeply moved to witness the extent of his dedication, his heartfelt embrace of our father’s music, and the sheer genuine joy he brought to his exploration. It saddens us to witness any misrepresentations or misunderstandings of his efforts.”
They also directly addressed criticism about Cooper’s physical appearance as their father.
“It is indeed a fact that Leonard Bernstein had a distinctive, prominent nose. Bradley chose to utilize makeup to enhance his resemblance, and we are entirely comfortable with that decision,” the statement continues. “We are also confident that our father would have been accepting of it as well. Any strong objections related to this matter strike us primarily as insincere attempts to undermine a successful individual — a practice that we too often observed being directed at our own father.”
Cooper also co-wrote, co-produced, and directed “Maestro,” according to IMDb, marking his first directorial work since 2018’s “A Star is Born.” The narrative revolves around Bernstein and his 25-year marriage to Felicia Montealegre, portrayed by Carey Mulligan. Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg are also among the film’s producers.
Cooper has not yet publicly commented on the controversy. CNN has reached out to his representatives.
“Throughout the entire process of creating this film, we could sense the deep respect and yes, the affection that Bradley poured into his portrayal of Leonard Bernstein and his wife, our mother Felicia,” the family statement concluded. “We consider ourselves fortunate to have shared this experience with Bradley, and we eagerly anticipate the world’s reception of his creation.”