Bradley Cooper is having his “dream come true” at the 2023 Venice Film Festival, despite not attending due to the ongoing strikes.
Cooper’s sophomore directorial effort “Maestro” will premiere at this year’s festival; however, lead actor, director, co-writer, and producer Cooper will not be in attendance in solidarity with the actors’ and writers’ strikes.
Venice Film Festival director Alberto Barbera told The Guardian that Cooper “desperately” wanted “Maestro” to have its world premiere at the festival, where Cooper’s directorial debut “A Star Is Born” first debuted.
“So far the only filmmaker who definitely won’t be in Venice is Bradley Cooper, because he’s also the leading actor,” Barbera said. “He called me and said he desperately wanted the film to be in Venice, that it was his dream come true, but he doesn’t want to come against the strike. I understand, of course.”
To note, actors Adam Driver, Caleb Landry Jones, Mads Mikkelsen, Jessica Chastain, Cailee Spaeny, and Jacob Elordi are expected to be in attendance for the festival due to their respective films having obtained SAG-AFTRA interim waivers (per Variety). Films “Ferrari,” “Memory,” “Priscilla,” “Dogman,” and “The Promised Land” were indie productions not produced by AMPTP members and therefore exempt from SAG-AFTRA strike guidelines for the talent.
Festival director Barbera continued of the strikes as a whole, “I’d already closed the selection for the festival when we got the news about the strikes. We spent a few days concerned that we could lose all the films from the US. It was an extremely difficult weekend.”
“Maestro” stars Cooper as famed conductor, composer, and musician Leonard Bernstein. The film captures the lifelong relationship between Bernstein and his wife Felicia Montealegre, portrayed by Carey Mulligan. Matt Bomer, Maya Hawke, Sarah Silverman, and Josh Hamilton also star. Along with Cooper, Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese additionally produce the Netflix period piece.
Cooper has called the film his “most terrifying” role to date, saying that being a conductor is “the absolute hardest thing you could ever want to do. It is impossible.”
“Maestro” has already caused controversy with the teaser trailer inciting backlash to Cooper’s prosthetic nose and allegations of portraying a stereotypical “Jew face” as Bernstein. The Bernstein family came to the defense of the film, issuing a statement in part saying that the “misrepresentations or misunderstandings” of Cooper’s appearance “breaks our hearts.”
“Bradley Cooper included the three of us along every step of his amazing journey as he made his film about our father,” a statement co-written by Bernstein’s children, Jamie, Alexander, and Nina Bernstein, read. “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. It breaks our hearts to see any misrepresentations or misunderstandings of his efforts.”