Bradley Cooper Criticized for Wearing Prosthetic Nose to Play Jewish Composer in New Movie

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Bradley Cooper has found himself embroiled in online criticism due to his choice of wearing a prosthetic nose to depict a Jewish composer in his upcoming movie.

Titled “Maestro,” the Netflix biopic focuses on the life of renowned composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein, a character taken on by Cooper. The film’s core revolves around Bernstein’s tumultuous 25-year marriage with actor Felicia Montealegre Cohn Bernstein, portrayed by Carey Mulligan, known for her role in “The Great Gatsby.”

While the teaser for the movie released on August 15 received acclaim from some quarters, Cooper unexpectedly became a trending topic on Twitter, not for his acting prowess, but for the controversial use of a prosthetic nose. Critics raised concerns about the concept of “Jewface,” a term that encapsulates derogatory or inauthentic representations of Jewish individuals.

The Media Diversity Institute delved into the history behind the stereotype of “hooked noses,” highlighting how this feature became erroneously associated with the stereotypical “Jewish” appearance. Despite a lack of evidence to support this notion, the stereotype was fueled by antisemitic and Nazi propaganda in the 1930s, persisting as a harmful trope to this day.

A spokesperson from the anti-racist organization Amadeu Antonio Stiftung emphasized the continued presence of the “hook nose” stereotype, underscoring that despite its age, it remains far from irrelevant in perpetuating negative imagery.

The decision of the creators of “Maestro” to employ such a historically harmful representation has not been well-received among social media users.

One user questioned the decision, stating, “Bradley Cooper is putting himself in an insanely large prosthetic nose to play a Jewish man in ‘Maestro,’ and we’re all just supposed to act like that’s cool and normal?” Another user juxtaposed images of Cooper and the real Leonard Bernstein.

Another observer highlighted issues with both portrayals, asking, “So… was there anyone (Jewish or not) who thought ‘hmm, maybe we shouldn’t perpetuate a stereotype rooted in antisemitism?'” They continued, “Were any Ashkenazi Jewish actors even considered for the role?! And Carey Mulligan playing a Costa Rican woman?!”

Another individual reiterated the sentiment, inquiring, “So am I going to be the one to ask why an English woman is portraying a Costa Rican woman?”

In a previous interview with Variety, Cooper expressed his admiration for the composer and revealed that Steven Spielberg had approached him to potentially star in a version of the film. Cooper recounted, “I [said to Spielberg], ‘I always felt like I could play a conductor, but may I research the material and see if I can write it and direct it? Would you let me do that?'” He further shared how Spielberg entrusted him with the project, leading to his involvement over the past four and a half years.

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