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Bradley Cooper ‘Stole’ Leonard Bernstein Role from Half-Jewish Jake Gyllenhaal

Bradley Cooper has been accused of ‘stealing’ the role of legendary composer Leonard Bernstein from half-Jewish actor Jake Gyllenhaal after he was slammed for donning a large prosthetic nose for the part. 

Cooper, 48, has been accused of being antisemitic by critics who feel he took the role from Gyllenhaal, 42, as well as being accused of ‘Jewface’. 

The Philadelphia native plays the role of the legendary musical conductor in the film opposite Carey Mulligan, who portrays his wife Felicia Montealegre, with the movie examining their relationship.

Many have been quick to question why Gyllenhaal, whose mother is Jewish, was not cast despite previously showing interest. 

The two top Hollywood A-Listers both pitched movies about the music star in 2018 – but Cooper’s project won the rights to Bernstein’s music, effectively killing the Gyllenhaal rival. 

Gyllenhaal announced his project first, on May 1, confirming that he would be working with director Cary Fukunaga, with Bron Studios, before the pair scrambled to get permission for the musical rights. 

Cooper announced his plan on May 18.

Ultimately Cooper came out on top, with Hollywood heavyweights Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese being given the rights alongside Paramount.

Gyllenhaal’s movie – The American – was not given permission to feature any music that Bernstein composed, including West Side Story, causing the project to come screeching to a halt. 

Since the first trailer for Maestro dropped, Cooper has been slammed for wearing a prosthetic nose, and being accused of being antisemitic. 

New York City-based group StopAntisemitism tweeted a picture of Bernstein, before launching an attack on Cooper.

They tweeted: ‘Hollywood cast Bradley Cooper – a non-Jew – to play Jewish legend Leonard Bernstein and stuck a disgusting exaggerated ‘Jew nose’ on him.

‘All while saying no to Jake Gyllenhaal, an actually Jewish man, who has dreamt of playing Bernstein for decades. Sickening.’

Maestro was tabbed as one of this year’s most anticipated releases and marks Cooper’s first project as director since his Oscar-nominated movie A Star is Born.

However some then doubled down on their accusations, calling the use of the prosthetic ‘completely unnecessary’.

Another added that ‘there was no need for Bradley Cooper to add an odd prosthetic nose on top of this to play Leonard Bernstein,’ as ‘his own nose is longer!’

One user noted that the Academy Award-nominated star, who is not Jewish, should not have even been in the casting discussion with ‘so many great Jewish actors out there.’

A third said that Cooper’s appearance was both offensive and unnecessary to the actual storytelling process in the film.

‘Bradley Cooper wearing a prosthetic nose to play Leonard Bernstein is the equivalent of Black face,’ the user said. ‘He should be able to portray the character through the magnificence of his own acting. 

‘Particularly if Cooper has been hired over a Jewish actor. There has to be a line.’

The concept of ‘Jewface’ has been debated across Hollywood, with some people critical of Felicity Jones, who is not Jewish, playing late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in the 2018 film On the Basis of Sex.

Another controversy come in the fall of 2021 when Kathryn Hahn, who is not Jewish, was cast to play late comic and talk show host Joan Rivers in a limited series titled The Comeback Girl. (The project did not move forward due to licensing rights.)

One of the biggest critics of Hahn’s casting was Sarah Silverman – who, in an ironic twist, plays the role of Shirley Bernstein in Maestro alongside Cooper.

On The Sarah Silverman Podcast in October of 2021, Silverman said that ‘there’s this long tradition of non-Jews playing Jews, and not just playing people who happen to be Jewish but people whose Jewishness is their whole being.’

Silverman said that ‘one could argue, for instance’ that a non Jewish actress ‘playing Joan Rivers correctly would be doing what is actually called ‘Jewface.”

Silverman on the podcast said that ‘Jewface’ is ‘defined as when a non-Jew portrays a Jew with the Jewishness front and center, often with makeup or changing of features, big fake nose, all the New York-y or Yiddish-y inflection’

She asked, ‘In a time when the importance of representation is seen as so essential and so front and center, why does ours constantly get breached even today in the thick of it?’

Maestro is set to arrive in theaters and on Netflix December 20.