Make-up artist who created Bradley Cooper's Bernstein nose apologises for causing hurt

Oscar winning make-up designer Kazu Hiro explains thinking behind controversial prosthetic


The make-up artist for Bradley Cooper's Leonard Bernstein biopic Maestro has apologised for offending people by giving the lead character a prosthetic nose.

Earlier this month, a trailer for Maestro, an upcoming Netflix biopic about the late composer provoked disagreement across the Jewish community after shots showed Cooper donning the prosthetic nose. 

Many, including Bernstein's children, defended Cooper's decision to don the nose, and said it accurately portrayed their father's "nice big nose."

However, other antisemitism groups said the nose perpetuated historic antisemitic stereotypes of Jews with hook noses or was deliberately contrived to make Bernstein seem "more Jewish" than he actually was.

The biopic had its premiere in Venice on Saturday, but Cooper was not in the city to present his Netflix production because of a Hollywood actors' strike that prevents promotional work. 

However, his Oscar winning make-up designer Kazu Hiro said he was surprised by the nose criticism.

He said: "I feel sorry that I hurt some people's feelings.

"My goal, and Bradley's goal, was to portray Lenny as authentic as possible. Lenny had a really iconic look that everybody knows – there's so many pictures out there because he's photogenic too – such a great person and inspired so many people.

“So, we wanted to respect the look too, on the inside. So that's why we did several different tests and went through lots of decisions, and that was the outcome in the movie.”

Hiro went on to admit that it took two hours to fix the nose onto Cooper when he was portraying the younger Bernstein, but up to five hours as the character reached old age.

Bernstein's daughter, Jamie, said that Cooper had involved the family closely in the development of the film, which focuses on the composer's relationship with his wife, played by British actor Carey Mulligan, and his bisexuality.

She said: "He chose to tell this very intimate story about our parents and to really include my brother, sister and me in his process. And really, we didn't expect that.

"We never dreamed that he would go to the lengths that he did to include us in his process and to go to these incredible lengths to maintain authenticity.”

Jamie plus siblings Alexander and Nina last month released a statement which 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 makeup to amplify his resemblance, and we're perfectly fine with that.”

Cooper's nose-based controversy comes just weeks after questions were raised about Cillian Murphy's casting as the Jewish nuclear scientist J Robert Oppenheimer in Oppenheimer.

Maestro will debut on Netflix on December 20. 

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