Culture / Film

‘Maestro’ will chart the marriage and career of Leonard Bernstein

maestro leonard bernstein

Leonard Bernstein, the tremendous American conductor and composer, is the focus of a new biopic co-written and directed by Bradley Cooper called Maestro. RUSSH brings you a first look at the trailer for the film, along with all the details around casting, release date and more, below.

What is Maestro about?

Known best for his compositions for musicals like West Side Story and On the Town, the film serves as a love letter to Leonard Bernstein. It focuses on his marriage to Chilean-American actor Felicia Montealegre, Bernstein's family life, along with his career and connections to art and music. According to American playwright Arthur Laurents, the author of West Side Story, Bernstein was simply “a gay man who got married. He wasn’t conflicted about it at all. He was just gay." The film is expected to cover the composer's same sex relationships following his wife's death also.

Who is involved?

Maestro is the brainchild of Bradley Cooper, who co-wrote the script alongside Josh Singer of Spotlight fame. Before he was awarded the music rights from Bernstein's estate, Jake Gyllenhaal was also appealing for the rights for his own Leonard Bernstein biopic, which he had been working on since 2018. Upon missing out to Cooper, Gyllenhaal told Deadline, "that idea of playing one of the most preeminent Jewish artists in America and his struggle with his identity was in my heart for 20 some odd years, but sometimes those things don’t work out".

The film marks Cooper's second stint as director, a follow up to his debut with A Star Is Born in 2018. Cooper will also pull a triple act for the film, taking on the lead role as Bernstein, while Carey Mulligan has been selected to play Bernstein's wife, Felicia.

The cast comprises of actors like Maya Hawke, Sarah Silverman, Josh Hamilton, Matt Bomer, Scott Ellis, Gideon Glick, Sam Nivola, Alexa Swinton and Miriam Shor. While, industry veterans like Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg have signed on to produce the film.

Is there a trailer?

With the trailer out in the world, it has sparked conversation around who gets to play Jewish subjects, particularly those as beloved as Bernstein. There's also dialogue around the prosthetics created by Kazu Hiro, the Japanese-American special effects artist who won an Oscar for his work transforming Gary Oldman into Winston Churchill for The Darkest Hour and Charlize Theron into Megyn Kelly for Bombshell. The trailer shows Cooper completely transformed with prosthetics, including a protruding nose which critics have claimed exaggerates Bernstein's own appearance and adopts harmful anti-semitic stereotypes.

View the trailer for Maestro, below.

Maestro release date

Maestro is set to premiere on Netflix on December 20, 2023.

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