How Bradley Cooper Convinced Steven Spielberg to Let Him Make ‘Maestro’
Bradley Cooper might be rose to big-screen fame thanks to raunchy comedies like Wedding Crashers and The Hangover. But the actor has really made an effort to prove he can do so much more. First that started with a string of Oscar-nominated roles in Silver Linings Playbook, American Hustle, and American Sniper. Then he shifted behind the scenes as a producer of movies like Joker and the co-writer/director of 2018’s A Star Is Born. Cooper’s most recent feat? Convincing Steven Spielberg why he should direct a movie other than legendary filmmaker himself.
Bradley Cooper was initially only attached to star in ‘Maestro’
At first, Cooper was attached to star in Maestro, the upcoming biopic about Broadway legend Leonard Bernstein. Bernstein was a renowned musician and composer, whose most famous work is West Side Story. Of course, that Broadway musical was adapted into a film in 1961 and then remade by Spielberg in 2021. So it stood to reason Spielberg would be interested in delving into story of the man behind West Side Story‘s iconic music.
Cooper — with an proven dramatic range and penchant for musically driven stories — seemed like a solid casting choice. Moreover, Maestro will feature Carey Mulligan (Promising Young Woman) as Bernstein’s wife, Felicia Montealegre. Their love story is a major part of Maestro by the sounds of it. But it wasn’t the romantic side of the project that inspired Cooper to vie for their director’s chair.
Now ‘Maestro’ is his next directorial effort after ‘A Star Is Born’
As part of Variety’s “Actors on Actors” series, Cooper sat down for an in-depth chat with two-time Oscar winner Mahershala Ali. And during the conversation, Maestro came up, and Cooper took the opportunity to shed a bit of light on why he ended up making the project his second directorial effort.
“I [told Spielberg], ‘I always felt like I could play a conductor, but may I research the material and see if I can write it and direct it? Would you let me do that?’ Steven has a lot of interests. He’ll just choose one thing, and all of the other things will be on hold. I think he knew he wasn’t going to make that movie for a while. He was kind enough to hand it off to me, and that’s what I’ve been doing for the last four and a half years. And we start shooting in May.”
Of course, Maestro will be Cooper’s first time behind the camera since A Star Is Born. That movie went on to a legitimate blockbuster and received eight Oscar nominations, winning Best Original Song for “Shallow.” Moreover, it earned $436 million against a reported $36 million production budget, according to Box Office Mojo.
Bradley Cooper feels destined to win an Academy Award one day
An eight-time Oscar nominee, Cooper has yet to win an Academy Award. And while he might claim now that he doesn’t want to win an Oscar, it does feel somewhat inevitable. After all, Cooper earned all those nods in less than a decade. And with his shift to directing and producing, his reputation in the industry is only on the rise.
Will Maestro be the movie to get him Oscar gold? Quite possibly. Reportedly, both Spielberg and Martin Scorsese were interested in directing the project at one point. The Academy Awards definitely love their biopics. And if A Star Is Born is any indication of what Cooper can accomplish as director, then Maestro is definitely one to watch.