In comments provided to Page Six, Jewish actress Tracy-Ann Oberman highlighted that Cooper didn’t wear prosthetics when he played John Merrick for the 2014 stage production of The Elephant Man, for instance. “If Bradley Cooper is able to play the Elephant Man without any prosthetics, he should be able to play a Jewish man without any need for prosthetics — especially a ‘Jewish’ nose,” she said. “If he needs to wear a prosthetic nose then that is, to me and many others, the equivalent of Black-Face or Yellow-Face.”
Oberman also contrasted Cooper’s decision to don a prosthetic to Cillian Murphy and Tom Conti in Oppenheimer, who played J. Robert Oppenheimer and Albert Einstein, respectively. “Cillian could play Oppenheimer because he looks like Oppenheimer and could get the power of the man’s story and Jewishness through the power of his acting,” she added. “Ditto Tom Conti as Einstein didn’t have to ‘wear’ a nose.”
Others have pointed out that Jake Gyllenhaal, who is Jewish, was originally attached to play Bernstein in a different biopic project that never came to fruition. The late conductor’s estate awarded exclusive music rights to Cooper’s project in 2018, per The Hollywood Reporter, which meant that Gyllenhaal’s movie wouldn’t’ve been able to feature any of his music, including what he composed for West Side Story.
“Remember how bradley cooper basically stole the rights for this film from a jewish man who had been passionately trying to make it for years?” wrote one user on X. “and now he’s wearing prosthetic nose to play a jewish man and directing it himself.”