Bradley Cooper Calls Playing Leonard Bernstein in ‘Maestro’ the ‘Most Terrifying’ Role Ever

"It's the absolute hardest thing you could ever want to do," Cooper said of being a conductor in general. "It is impossible."
Bradley Cooper as Leonard Bernstein in "Maestro"
Bradley Cooper as Leonard Bernstein in "Maestro"

Bradley Cooper is calling on conductors to fact-check just how difficult their profession is.

Cooper, while in conversation with “TÁR” writer-director Todd Field and actresses Cate Blanchett and Nina Hoss for a Focus Features awards season roundtable, gave insights into upcoming Leonard Bernstein film “Maestro.” Cooper portrays the legendary conductor and composer and also directs the feature. The real-life Bernstein is name-checked in Field’s “TÁR” by problematic fictional conductor Lydia Tár (Blanchett) as one of her mentors.

“I can’t wait to see your film about Bernstein,” Blanchett told Cooper during the video.

The “A Star Is Born” director said, “Having worked on a project in the same world [as ‘TÁR’], the level of respect that I have for that world and that podium, it is the most terrifying thing I’ve ever experienced. And it’s so odd because so many people — I don’t know if you’ve come across this — but people that I have in the last five years have said, ‘Well, what is it that conductors even do? Aren’t you up there sort of doing like this?'”

Cooper continued, “And my answer is, ‘It’s the absolute hardest thing you could ever want to do. It is impossible.'”

To Field and Blanchett, Cooper said, “Not only did you make the conducting look easy, but the rehearsal. The rhythm of the rehearsal and the way you wrote and filmed it was just so appetizing on every level as a viewer. It was truly mind-blowing…There’s no one else who could ever play that role [of Lydia Tár].”

Cooper then spoke of Blanchett’s own musicality as an actress in general, after having collaborated together on Guillermo del Toro’s “Nightmare Alley.”

Cooper’s upcoming Bernstein feature “Maestro” also stars Carey Mulligan, Maya Hawke, and Matt Bomer. Cooper co-wrote “Maestro” with Josh Singer (“Spotlight”); the film marks his sophomore effort as a director following 2018’s “A Star Is Born” debut. Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg executive produce the feature which is scheduled to be released this year by Netflix.

Spielberg originally was set to direct “Maestro” with Cooper cast in the lead role. However, after Spielberg saw Cooper’s directorial skills with “A Star Is Born,” the Oscar winner enlisted Cooper to helm the project. The duo are set to collaborate together on a new “Bullitt” film, with Cooper taking over the role made famous by Steve McQueen.

Cooper previously said that he spent “hundreds of hours” practicing to be a conductor as a child. A first look at the upcoming film shows Cooper barely recognizable as Bernstein.

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