Co-writing, directing, producing and starring in his Leonard Bernstein biography “Maestro,” Bradley Cooper found a terrifying undertaking that turned into a journey of joy and courage.
“Maestro,” a years-long passion project, is the sequel to Cooper’s directorial debut “A Star Is Born.”
“I was very scared at first when I realized how much work it would involve. But the more work I put in, the more comfortable I became day by day with the idea of being able to ask anyone to do that journey,” Cooper told Reuters at the film’s premiere in London on Friday.
“In the end it was just joy and fearlessness.”
Bernstein, who died in 1990, was an acclaimed American conductor and composer who wrote classical music and iconic hit musicals such as “West Side Story.”
“Maestro” focuses on his relationship with his wife Felicia Montealegre, played by British actress Carey Mulligan, and his bisexuality.
“Lenny and Felicia were full of passion and we were so excited to be able to put our energy into a story about people who truly loved life and lived so dynamically,” Cooper said.
“There was so much mutual love for them as a couple back then that everyone referred to them as Lenny and Felicia. “It feels so fitting that the film is her story and her love story,” added Mulligan, who said directing her co-star was her “favorite experience ever.”
“I’ve never experienced anything like this,” she said. “It didn’t feel like two separate things. There’s no acting required, you’re just in the scene, I think that’s a testament to a really great director.”
Bernstein and Montealegre’s children were closely involved in the development of the film. “Maestro” was made for her family, Cooper said, and everything else, including the Oscar talk, was extra.
“We had a really deep relationship with them throughout this entire experience. It’s really about serving their parents in this art form, and all these other things are great and fun, but it has nothing to do with why we did it.”
“Maestro” begins streaming on Netflix on December 20th.