Bradley Cooper as Leonard Bernstein

BRADLEY COOPER hasn’t been seen on screen for weeks, and months, and even years if you’re somewhat removed from the Hollywood film circuit. But there’s a reason for his disappearing act, you see—the 48-year-old has been working around the clock perfecting the fruits of his labour, that is, his second feature film since, A Star Is Born.

Maestro will see Cooper direct and star in what is to be a story on the dramatic life of legendary American composer and conductor, Leonard Bernstein—but according to Cooper, it’s not a biopic but rather a love story about marriage and family values.

Here’s what we know about Cooper’s follow-up film which is garnering serious Oscar buzz.

What is Maestro about?

The official synopsis describes Maestro as a towering and fearless love story chronicling the lifelong relationship between cultural icon Leonard Bernstein and Felicia Montealegre Cohn Bernstein. A love letter to life and art, Maestro, at its core, is an emotionally epic portrayal of family and love.

The audience will follow the life of the famous composer (played by Cooper), who is synonymous for his works such as West Side Story, Peter Pan and On the Waterfront, as well as his complex love story with wife Felicia which spans across three decades. Our guess is that the film will jump back and forth through timelines, which will cover the couples first encounter at a party in 1946 through to their two engagements and three children over 25 years of marriage.

Cooper directs, produces and co-writes—with Josh Singer (Spotlight; The Post; First Man).

Bradley Cooper as Leonard Bernstein

Who is starring in Maestro?

Cooper stars alongside Carey Mulligan (The Great Gatsby; Drive), and will also feature Matt Bomer (Magic Mike), Jeremy Strong (Succession), Sarah Silverman (School of Rock) and Maya Hawke (Stranger Things). In an interview with Smartless in 2022, a podcast hosted by Jason Bateman, Will Arnott and Sean Hayes, Cooper revealed that Maestro has been four-and-half-years in the making.

“It’s been four and a half years in the making and I feel very grateful,” he said. “I just did all this research about this incredible family, the Bernsteins, and Felicia Montealegre, [Leonard’s] wife. Their relationship — fascinating — and the kids. They’re so articulate about their feelings. There’s the movie; a movie about marriage, a movie about family. That’s it. Why is it nuclear? Because it’s this fucking music. Music is nuclear. I had a secret weapon in A Star Is Born. It was Lady Gaga. The secret weapon I have in this movie is fucking Leonard Bernstein and Gustav Mahler. The music!”

Bradley Cooper and Carey Mulligan

Can Bradley Cooper break his Oscar curse?

For more than 20 years, Bradley Cooper has graced our screens with unforgettable performances in The Hangover, American Sniper, Silver Linings Playbook and A Star Is Born—none of which he has ever won an Oscar (or Golden Globe) for.

Pundits say that Cooper was snubbed for not taking home an Academy Award for his involvement in A Star Is Born, but perhaps Maestro is Cooper’s redemption story—a film that, from the onset, is garnering serious Oscars buzz. And how can it not? Cooper has dedicated four years of his life to his project, completely transforming himself in the process to step into the shoes of the revered American composer, Leonard Bernstein.

What about Bradley Cooper’s nose?

Oh, so you’ve noticed it, too. When images first surfaced of Cooper’s transformation in order to play Bernstein, while the similarities are definitely uncanny, the large prosthetic nose he’d adopted caused a bit of stir—it’s big, and the internet thought so, too.

But not just that, some pundits were quick to remark its supposed embodiment of “Jewface”—some thought it was a stereotypical, inauthentic portrayal of a Jewish man by Cooper, a non-Jewish person. Bernstein’s children, however, had other opinions on the matter.

In a statement posted to their late father’s X page, Jamie, Alexander and Nina Bernstein said that Cooper was very inclusive and supportive throughout the whole time filming Maestro.

“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,” they said.

“It breaks our hearts,” the trio continued, “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 makeup to amplify his resemblance, and we’re perfectly fine with that.”

When will Maestro be released?

Maestro will be released in select theatres on November 22, and on Netflix December 20


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