Bradley Cooper is back in the director’s chair with his second feature film, Maestro. The musical biopic promises to be a riveting exploration of the life of famed composer Leonard Bernstein and his marriage to Felicia Montealegre. With a captivating narrative and cast boasting immense talent, Maestro has all the makings of a cinematic tour de force.
So, are you ready to delve into the intriguing details we’ve gathered about this 2023 Oscar contender? Let’s get started!
Bradley Cooper’s Second Directorial Feature
As said earlier, Maestro is Bradley Cooper’s second project as a director while also starring in it. Maestro follows his 2018 directorial debut, A Star Is Born, which was critically and commercially successful. A Star is Born received eight Oscar nominations for Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, and Best Adapted Screenplay. The 2018 movie won the Oscar for Best Original Song.
The Maestro movie was in development limbo for some time. This was due to legendary directors Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg previously attached to direct. They ultimately brought Cooper on board to not only direct it but also star in it. According to Cooper, Spielberg tapped him to direct the film after he watched the advanced screening of A Star is Born.
Maestro already had its world premiere at the 80th Venice International Film Festival. The movie was up alongside other titles like Ferrari by Michael Mann, The Killer by David Fincher, and Priscilla by Sofia Coppola. It also had additional screenings at the New York Film Festival and the BFI London Film Festival.
The Star-Studded Maestro Cast
For Maestro, Bradley Cooper will also be starring as the legendary composer Leonard Bernstein. The photos of Cooper in character were met with backlash on the internet as he donned a prosthetic nose to play Bernstein. Some critics claimed that Cooper was promoting an anti-semitic stereotype. However, Bernstein’s children: Jamie, Alexander, and Nina Bernstein, came to Cooper’s defense and issued a statement.
“Bradley Cooper included the three of us along every step of his amazing journey as he made his film about our father,” they said in the statement. “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. We’re also certain that our dad would have been fine with it as well.”
Carey Mulligan plays Leonard Bernstein’s wife, actress Felicia Montealegre. The supporting cast includes Matt Bomer as David Oppenheim, Maya Hawke as Jamie Bernstein, Sara Silverman as Shirley Bernstein, Michael Urie as Jerome Robbins, Gideon Glick as Tommy Cothran, Sam Nivola as Alexander Bernstein, Miriam Shor as Cynthia O’Neal, and Alexa Swinton as Nina Bernstein. Josh Hamilton is also cast in an undisclosed role.
The Story of Maestro
Maestro is about the life of Leonard Bernstein. From his professional life as a composer to his personal life including his sexuality and his marriage. Maestro will also span many decades with Bernstein’s relationship with Felicia Montealegre Cohn Bernstein.
“Maestro is a towering and fearless love story chronicling the lifelong relationship between 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,” according to the official synopsis on Netflix.
As said earlier, Maestro will be Cooper’s second time in the director’s chair. Cooper also co-wrote the screenplay with Oscar winner Josh Singer as well as produced the film. Scorsese, Spielberg, Kristie Macosko Krieger, Fred Berner, and Amy Durning are also producing the film. Singer, Carla Raij, Bobby Wilhelm, Weston Middleton, and Tracey Landon are executive producing.
Matthew Libatique is on board as cinematographer with Michelle Tesoro as the editor. Costume design is by Mark Bridges and production design is by Kevin Thompson. Production for Maestro started in New York City in May 2022. Additional filming took place in Tanglewood.
Production wrapped in October 2022 in England after three more days of filming at the Ely Cathedral.
Maestro is also expected to shed light on Bernstein’s sexuality. While the composer never publicly revealed his sexual orientation, it was rumored that he pursued relationships with men. Bomer plays the clarinet player who was one of Bernstein’s rumored romantic interests.
What Audiences Should Expect
Jamie Bernstein praised Cooper and Mulligan’s performances in the film.
“His energy was so similar to our dad’s, and his way of being in the world and relating to people reminded us more and more of our dad, and we began to see how right he was for the role in ways that wouldn’t even have occurred to us at first,” said Jamie, about Cooper.
About Mulligan’s performance, Jamie said, “We didn’t know what to expect because our mother was such a complex and subtle person, and she had many idiosyncrasies. She was also a very private person, so we didn’t know whether anyone would be capable of conveying her essence. And it’s just the damnedest thing how Carey really did that.”
Jamie Bernstein also spoke about Cooper and Mulligan’s portrayals of her father in an interview with Vanity Fair.
“He had found a way into the story of our dad that wasn’t just about his career and his fame,” said Jamie, adding that Cooper asked “a million questions” in his dive into the composer.
“He really wanted to kind of get under the skin of who Leonard Bernstein was, who Felicia Montealagre was, and who we were as a family,” said Jamie.
In an interview with Vogue, Mulligan said Maestro was not a biopic despite the assumption of many. Mulligan added that it was definitely about the marriage between Bernstein and Montealegre.
“Their connection was profound,” said the actress. “They lit each other up. You can hear it. There are tapes of them trading anecdotes and it’s like they’re dancing.”
Maestro Release Date
Maestro is slated for a limited theatrical release on November 22, 2023. The film will be in theaters until it reaches Netflix on December 20, 2023. Maestro will also be screening on the closing night of the AFI Film Festival on October 29, 2023. The limited theatrical release by Netflix is done to qualify for awards.
Netflix acquired the rights to Maestro back in 2020. The streaming platform promised a similar theatrical rollout as The Irishman, Marriage Story, and The Power of the Dog. A teaser trailer for the film was released on August 15, 2023. Check out the full trailer for the film below.