"I wasn't expecting that to happen," Kazu Hiro told the press corp at the 2023 Venice Film Festival Saturday, per Deadline. "I feel sorry that I hurt some people's feelings."
Kazu Hiro, who won Academy Awards for Best Makeup and Hairstyling for 2017's Darkest Hour and 2019's Bombshell, created the facial enhancement to transform Cooper into legendary composer, conductor, and pianist Leonard Bernstein.
"I wanted to portray Lenny as real as possible," he said. "He's photogenic and a great person. We wanted to respect and love that look. We did several different tests. That was our [only] intention."
Netflix Carey Mulligan and Bradley Cooper in 'Maestro'
When the Maestro trailer dropped last month, social media lit up with concerns that Cooper's prosthetic nose was a "horribly anti-Semitic" choice for the movie's depiction of the Jewish musical legend.
However, Bernstein's children — Jamie, Alexander, and Nina Bernstein — defended the decision, releasing a statement explaining that they had worked with Cooper every step of the way and that they approve of how their father is presented in the film.
"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," their statement read. "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."
In his remarks to the Venice press corp, Kazu Hiro also praised Cooper's dedication to the film, including his 2 a.m. start time so that his five hours in a makeup chair wouldn't delay shooting on days he played an older Bernstein.
Maestro tells the story of the 16-time Grammy Award winner's passionate relationship with his art and with his family, particularly his wife, Felicia Montealegre Cohn Bernstein, played by Carey Mulligan. The film — which also stars Matt Bomer, Sarah Silverman, and Maya Hawke — debuted at the Venice Film Festival on Saturday, with early reviews calling it a "triumphant turn" as well as "heartfelt, garrulous, and faintly exhausting." It marks Cooper's return to directing after he helmed A Star Is Born, which earned an Oscar nomination for Best Picture in 2018.
Following a limited theatrical run in November, Maestro will hit Netflix on Dec. 2. It was co-produced by Steven Spielberg.
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