Bradley Cooper wears prosthetics to play Leonard Bernstein in ‘Maestro’: ugh?

I didn’t recognize Bradley Cooper in these photos, did you? This is truly Bradley Cooper, buried under a mountain of prosthetics. Why, you may ask. Why didn’t the director simply hire someone older than Bradley Cooper? Ah, that is the wrong question. Because Bradley Cooper is directing Bradley Cooper in Please Give Me An Oscar, For the Love of God. The real name of this film is Maestro, and it’s a bio-pic of Leonard Bernstein, the legendary conductor and composer. The film will show Bernstein as a younger man, during which Cooper doesn’t seem to be wearing any prosthetics. But instead of casting a whole-ass other actor for the second part of the performance (of “Older Bernstein”), Bradley was like “let me wear Sean Penn’s face instead.” Seriously, I thought that’s who this was. Sean Penn in a white wig.

Carey Mulligan is in this film. She plays Felicia Montealegre, Leonard Bernstein’s wife. Production began several months ago and it’s not due out until 2023. According to Variety, Steven Spielberg was originally attached to the project as director and producer, and Spielberg was the one who approached Cooper about playing Bernstein. Cooper actually convinced Spielberg to give up the project and Cooper took over directing himself in the role.

This isn’t wholly like that f–king Renee Zellweger project, where she wore a fatsuit for no real reason (other than Emmy stunts and fatphobia). I think Bradley is an okay choice for the younger Bernstein and it is what it is. But I’m tired. These actors are exhausting me. The casting directors are exhausting me. Is it so hard to hire older actors to play older characters? Is it so hard to hire trans actors to play trans characters? Is it so hard to hire plus-sized actors to play plus-sized characters? NO IT IS NOT.

Photos courtesy of Netflix.

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59 Responses to “Bradley Cooper wears prosthetics to play Leonard Bernstein in ‘Maestro’: ugh?”

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  1. TeamAwesome says:

    I have been eagerly awaiting this film since it was first announced what feels like a million years ago. Dear Lenny, as my opera teacher who was friends with him called him, is a fascinating hot mess express icon.

  2. Oh_Hey says:

    But why not hire an older actor? I don’t ever get fat suits or prosthetics beyond the cool technical value. In terms of the actual acting, just hire someone who can already do the role and stop limiting Hollywood to the same 10 people.

    • Chaine says:

      Given the bountiful white coiffure which caused me to initially think this was a photo of Richard Gere, Richard Gere would have been my choice.

      • SarahCS says:

        I was coming here to say the same thing. The hair is totally Richard Gere. Give him the job.

      • Kirk says:

        Good point on Richard Gere. Plus Gere seems way more musical than Bradley cooper. Isn’t Gere also more politically outspoken? Will not be watching out for this movie.

    • HeyJude says:

      So one of my mentors knew Lenny very well. In fact he was romantically involved with Lenny and close friend with him. And we spent hours talking and watching old footage of him. I’ve seen mountains of private photographs of him.

      They didn’t use an older actor because Cooper has him nailed. In looks, in mannerisms just based on these stills alone, this is 100% Lenny. Bringing in someone else would have been wrong to an accurate portrayal.

      This is not remotely Sean Penn to anyone who is very familiar with Bernstein. It’s Lenny. All day, every day and I knew instantly on sight. I was astonished.

      This is Lenny just look at him-

  3. TIFFANY says:

    Robert DeNiro was right there to play the aged up Bernstein. Just sayin.

    B Coop wants that acting Oscar. Oh boy.

  4. Amy Bee says:

    Yeah just have two actors play the part. If they’re good enough both will be nominated for an Oacar.

  5. Digital Unicorn says:

    It’s only difficult to cast properly in these types of movies when they are being directed by twits who desperately want that Oscar win – even the single cell lifeforms on Mars can smell his desperation!!!

  6. MsIam says:

    For a second I thought that was Eugene Levy.

    • Tanguerita says:

      HA! I just wrote above, before seeing your comment that I would have cast Levy for this role )) He is such a gifted actor and seems like a perfect choice for this part.

      • Peanut Butter says:

        Maybe I just haven’t seen Bradley Cooper in the right film(s) to properly appreciate him. He’s one of the most uninteresting lead actors out there I can think of, and I’ve never understood his enduring job security as a leading man.

  7. Call Me Mabel says:

    I don’t mind actors playing older versions of the same character, so long as the make up and VFX are believable. Aging up is easier than aging down digitally (which in my opinion is okay for brief moments but is kind of creepy for a whole ass movie. Looking at you, Captain Marvel). Now if the character is older the entire movie and you cast a younger performer and then spend half your budget aging them, that’s weird.

    • FHMom says:

      I agree with this. It depends on how much of the film depicts an older Bernstein.

    • MF says:

      Agree with this. To me, it’s not at all the same thing as fat suits or hiring cis people to play trans parts.

      Also, BCoop is not that young. He’s in his late 40s, and he’s got the lines to prove it. Aging him up to look 60 or 70 won’t be terribly difficult.

    • CourtneyB says:

      I totally agree. I think it’s silly to make a fuss in this case. Even casting two actors would be jarring. It’s a movie not a series like The Crown.

  8. Case says:

    I’m not against actors wearing prosthetics to age up, but honestly, I have never found Bradley Cooper to be a compelling actor and tend to groan when he’s cast in a movie I’m interested in. I enjoyed Nightmare Alley a lot, but it made so much sense when I learned Leonardo DiCaprio was the original choice for Bradley’s role. Would’ve been so much better.

    • Call Me Mabel says:

      I hadn’t heard that before but yeeeeaaaahhh, that would have been a much better fit (I don’t mind Cooper but Leo would have just gelled in that role).

    • M says:

      THANK YOU. I just don’t get the fuss about him at all. There are much better actors out there.

  9. Lens says:

    He’s also wearing prosthetics to play a younger Bernstein. I think the more like a famous person you look like the better because I was put off by how unlike Desi Arnaz Javier Bardem looked even though his performance was spot on. I think both actors (Carey mulligan too) look great. I read his daughter’s book about him and it was fascinating and I can’t wait for this film. I guess Jake G gave up doing a movie on him now, although there will be people probably not liking the fact Bradley isn’t Jewish, or Carey isn’t half Chilean and Jewish. I say it’s all just acting.

    • Jais says:

      I believe Bradley Cooper won the music rights first so that put an end to Jake doing a version of that film.

  10. Millennial says:

    I’m not Jewish, but it strikes me as a bit odd to have a non-Jewish actor (at least according to Wikipedia his parents are Irish and Italian) donning a larger fake nose to play a Jewish character. Folks tell me if I’m overreacting.

    • Amy Bee says:

      I thought about that too.

    • Intheloop says:

      No, I thought that as well (and several people I follow on Twitter who are Jewish have said the same).

      • Elizabeth Phillips says:

        I’m not Jewish, but I have a fairly large nose, and if someone were playing me in a movie, I’d want someone with a larger nose and not a prosthetic.

    • Wilma says:


    • SophieJara says:

      Yah as a Jewish person I find the prosthetic nose offensive. I mean, of course it’s not on the level of blackface, but it’s also not like antisemitism has been chill lately in the US. Why not just not do the nose?

      Although honestly I hate the whole thing. Yes, actors should be able to physically transform themselves. But this is Oscar bait. This is so a thin, cis, white, straight, gentile can win an Oscar, right? By mining the truth of other people’s lives? And this is always the direction. It’s not a middle aged woman being aged backwards to play someone young in the first half. Such a tired setup.

      Side note – I always hated my nose, felt that it was unfeminine. Probably would have ditched it if i wasn’t afraid of messing with my face. And this is dumb, but Bella Hadid saying she wished she kept her Palestinian nose made me feel so much better.

    • Andrew's_Nemesis says:

      Agreed. Jewish here. Find this bloody outrageous, frankly, and playing into all kinds of heinous antisemitic tropes.

      • Mimi says:

        It is totally offensive. Full stop.

        He also wears a fake nose for the young Bernstein scenes. I really do think its offensive. Apparently Jake Gyllanhal (who is Jewish) wanted to do this project and he lost out to Cooper.

      • HeyJude says:

        Jake Gyllenhaal DID NOT LOSE OUT. Bernstein’s FAMILY did not want him on the project and refused to give him Leonard’s story rights. They specifically did not feel he fit the role.

        His family signed off on his life rights to Cooper specifically. So what you think compared to this actual man’s family- his also Jewish family- is irrelevant and frankly insulting. You do not get to question his children’s very personal choice on who to play their parent. It’s insulting and offensive people are daring to act entitled to that.

    • NiteOwle says:

      Another Jew here, and I do find this offensive.

    • DeltaJuliet says:

      I’m not Jewish and it makes me uncomfortable. Reading the comments from Jewish posters below it seems to be with good reason.

  11. K says:

    Oddly I just realized BCoop and Jamie Kennedy look alike

  12. Intheloop says:

    I think it’s very odd (to put it mildly) that Bradley Cooper (as a non-Jewish actor) is wearing nose prosthetics to play a Jewish role. Particularly when there are age appropriate Jewish actors who could easily step in (love the idea of Eugene Levy). Just leaves an unpleasant taste in the mouth.

    • HeyJude says:

      You’ll have to explain to me how Bernstein is a “Jewish role” in any specific way.

      Also Eugene Levy could never pull off playing the gay Bernstein. He’s as straight as straight gets. Frankly that is insulting.

      There was nothing particularly religious about Bernstein, he was however fundamentally influenced by his sexuality. So this “oh it has to be a Jewish actor!!!” cry without saying it has to be a LGBT actor is extremely offensive. One type of erasure is okay with you but not the other?!

      You’re inserting yourself into this. Newsflash- this is about Leonard Bernstein not you. His family finally signed off on the rights specifically for this project, they clearly are quite happy with it. Anyone else needs to sit down.

  13. Alice says:

    I’m sorry, this is way worse than the Renee zellwegger thing. They’ve stuck a fake nose (he also wears it when playing the younger Bernstein) on one of the most white bread actors of all time to play a Jewish man. His Latin American/Jewish wife is being played by an English woman who is blonder and whiter than Princess Diana.

    I have no idea how this is considered acceptable.

    • Eloisa says:

      It is so hard to hire real Latin actors to play Latin characters? Carey’s role, Felicia was Chilean.

  14. Kyra says:

    This is flat out offensive and so, uh, tone deaf. He started developing this ten years ago and times are finally starting to change…except for b coop. 😩 Also, aside from the Jewish and the bisexuality and the offensive nose, he’s miscast because he lacks the charisma, sec appeal, energy and personal talent that Leonard Bernstein had in spades. I will definitely not be watching.

  15. Ines says:

    For goodness sake, get an older actor!

  16. PaperclipNumber99 says:

    Felicia Montealegre was a Chilean Jew. So…. Carey Mulligan? JFC…it just never ends.

    • CourtneyB says:

      It’s up there with felicity jones as RBG. I couldn’t even watch that movie.

  17. M says:

    “Convinced Spielberg to give up the film” sounds like B Coop was a nightmare to work with and he ran away. That or the script is terrible and Spielberg couldn’t do anything with it and peaced out. I’ll be skipping this one as Emu Cooper is less than compelling to me.

  18. Ollie says:

    I’m Jewish (and was raised religious in a kosher home) and am not at all offended that Cooper has cast himself to play Bernstein and is wearing a prosthetic nose to look more like the composer/conductor. It’s possible I’ll be offended by the screenplay or substance of the film but neither I nor any of my family members or Jewish friends are at all disturbed by the casting or makeup.

  19. Christine says:

    He’s directing himself so I don’t know what we expected lol. The younger version pics are a little creepy to me – looks like what Bradley Cooper would look like in 10 years if he keeps messing with his face.

  20. Renee' says:

    But how would an older actor play a young Bernstein? Isn’t most of the movie in his younger years? Unless you hire 2 different actors to play Bernstein at different times in their lives (like they did with Brian Wilson in “Love and Mercy” movie), it’s easier to make a younger actor look older than an older actor look younger.

  21. Dr Mrs The Monarch says:

    Cooper’s best role is as a CGI mutant raccoon. I dislike seeing him act in human form.

    The really insulting part about the prosthetic nose is going to be Cooper’s Oscar campaign. He is going to complain nonstop about how hard and challenging it was to sit in makeup for hours and then walk around looking “ugly”.

    Hollywood casts more-attractive actors to play historical figures ALL THE TIME. Putting on “ugly” (which really means average-looking) is always seen as some enormous, super-human sacrifice at Oscar time.

  22. Cait says:

    Someone on Twitter referred to these images as “Latex Judaism,” and I just will not be able to think of it as anything else.

  23. Valerie says:

    This is what happens when you want a certain look, but you don’t want to hire a real person who looks that way. It isn’t as if you’re casting for The Elephant Man. Hire an older Jewish actor instead of getting some young white bread dude to play Fagin.

  24. Murphy says:

    Tom Hanks look better as Gepetto than that.

  25. HeyKay says:

    Bradley Cooper and Ryan Reynolds are both highly over rated IMO.
    Also Channing Tatum, Vin Diesel.

    Of course, I’m not the target Hollywood market anymore.

    I’d be happy to head out to the movies again, on a regular time schedule, if only Hollywood made a good comedy, or a drama with a good plot.
    I am so tired of all the Marvel, Star Wars, movies made for 14-16 y/o kids.

    “Movie Stars” aint what they used to be. lol
    And don’t even try selling me that “Tom Cruise is the last movie star BS.”
    It’s been over 15+ years since I can stomach TC. Once all the crap w/Scientology came out = No TC ever again. Which is too bad, I did like him in Collateral and Tropic Thunder.

  26. ArtMaven says:

    OMG! An ACTOR wants to take on an acting challenge and make an Oscar winning movie?

  27. ArtMaven says:

    OMG! An ACTOR wants to take on an acting challenge and make an Oscar winning movie?

  28. Mel says:

    If his family picked him, why should anyone question them? Their Dad, they get to decide who tells the story whether anyone else likes it or not. Aside from that, actors are only supposed to play exactly to type now? They should run DNA tests before auditioning for a part? There are a lot of other things to be in continuous grievance mode about.

  29. Bisynaptic says:

    Leonard Bernstein had a hunchback?