Steven Spielberg has spent a lot of time thinking about Leonard Bernstein in recent years, having just directed a remake of the composer’s iconic musical, “West Side Story.” Before that, Spielberg was prepping a Leonard Bernstein biopic, “Maestro,” as a directing vehicle for himself. He eventually handed the project to Bradley Cooper, who is helming the film for Netflix as his follow up to “A Star is Born.” In an appearance on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” Cooper recalled the daunting task of being hired by Steven Spielberg to direct a film.
Spielberg originally reached out to Cooper about playing the role of Bernstein. But Cooper, who had just finished shooting “A Star Is Born,” was only interested in directing at the time. He invited Spielberg to watch an early cut of his directorial debut with the hope that it would lead to an opportunity to direct “Maestro.”
“I’ll never forget this. He came, we were sitting there and I’m showing him ‘A Star Is Born’ and he’s all the way on the other side on the front row, it’s a pretty huge screen,” Cooper told Stephen Colbert. “It’s the scene where Jackson calls Ally up on the stage, it’s the biggest scene in the movie. And right as she just is going on the stage he gets up and I’m like, ‘Oh he’s going to the bathroom now?’ and I was like, ‘That’s it, it’s over. If he’s going to the bathroom at this point in the movie… and he gets up, he walks over, and I’m putting my head down and the next thing I know I feel his face here and he says, because it’s loud, ‘You’re f—ing directing ‘Maestro!’”
Cooper is a lifelong fan of classical music, and aspired to be a conductor when he was a child. He told Colbert that he spent “hundreds of hours” practicing conducting as a kid, and he dove into the process of developing “Maestro” with equal vigor. He wrote the screenplay with Josh Singer, and also stars as Leonard Bernstein alongside Jeremy Strong and Carey Mulligan. Netflix is expected to release “Maestro” in 2022.
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