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Bradley Cooper vs. Jake Gyllenhaal: Actors Set to Lead Rival Leonard Bernstein Biopics

Cooper is starring as the composer for a project backed by Steven Spielberg, while Gyllenhaal is playing the composer for Cary Fukunaga.

Bradley Cooper, Leonard Bernstein, Jake Gyllenhaal

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Leonard Bernstein is all the rage in Hollywood right now as both Bradley Cooper and Jake Gyllenhaal are attached to separate biopics about the legendary American composer. Cooper will direct and star in “Bernstein” (via Variety), which will mark his second directorial effort following his “A Star Is Born” adaptation with Lady Gaga. Gyllenhaal, meanwhile, is attached to play Bernstein in Cary Fukunaga’s “The American.”

Cooper’s “Bernstein” is backed by Paramount and Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment. Cooper will direct a script co-written by “Spotlight” Oscar winner Josh Singer and himself. Singer co-wrote Spielberg’s “The Post” and is also the co-writer of Damien Chazelle’s upcoming “First Man.” Martin Scorsese and Spielberg are both attached to the project as producers.

“Bernstein” is the second biopic about the “West Side Story” composer to be announced this May. Gyllenhaal’s “The American” was the first Bernstein biopic to be confirmed in development. “Beasts of No Nation” and “True Detective” Season 1 director Fukunaga is behind the project, which is currently selling international rights at the Cannes market and is hoping to start production this fall.

“Like many people, Leonard Bernstein found his way into my life and heart through ‘West Side Story’ when I was a kid,” Gyllenhaal said in a May 1 statement about his project. “But as I got older and started to learn about the scope of his work, I began to understand the extent of his unparalleled contribution and the debt of gratitude modern American culture owes him. As a man, Bernstein was a fascinating figure — full of genius and contradiction — and it will be an incredible honor to tell his story with a talent and friend like Cary.”

Cooper’s directorial debut, “A Star Is Born,” earned rave first reactions at CinemaCon last month, with many eyeing the film as a potential fall Oscar contender. The adaptation opens in theaters October 6 via Warner Bros.

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