Children of Leonard Bernstein defend Bradley Cooper’s portrayal of composer

The children of Leonard Bernstein have defended Bradley Cooper’s use of “make-up to amplify his resemblance” to the late composer in an upcoming film.

American actor Cooper, 48, who has had nine Oscar nominations, will play Bernstein in upcoming Netflix biopic Maestro.

He had come under fire for what critics have called not using acting to “get the power of the man’s story and Jewishness”.

In a statement from Jamie, Alexander and Nina Bernstein on Wednesday, 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.”

On Tuesday, 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.

Former EastEnders actress Tracy-Ann Oberman, who is from a Jewish background, compared Cooper appearing to have “a prosthetic nose” as similar to the use of blackface make-up.

She told her Instagram followers: “Cillian (Murphy) could play Oppenheimer because he looks like Oppenheimer and could get the power of the man’s story and Jewishness through the power of his acting, ditto Tom Conti as Einstein didn’t have to ‘wear’ a nose.

“If Bradley Cooper can’t do it through the power or acting alone then don’t cast him – get a Jewish actor.”

Binyomin Gilbert, a spokesperson for Campaign Against Antisemitism, said: “We live in a world that is more sensitive to the racial portrayal of characters on the screen and which actors play them.

“Reasonable people can disagree on the extent to which that is a positive development for the acting industry. But it is the reality.

“Therefore it is astonishing that nobody thought twice about sticking a big nose on a non-Jewish actor playing a Jew.

“The filmmakers here need to show that they understand why this is a problem. A failure to do so would indicate that there is a double standard when it comes to the portrayal of Jews on screen.”