Thursday , April 18 2024

Is it time for Bradley Cooper’s hardest role to date? As star’s ‘Oscar baiting’ with Maestro backfires the actor is under pressure to turn it around and win over the Academy

He spent six years preparing to become Leonard Bernstein in Maestro.

Yet ironically, the hardest role Bradley Cooper has has ever had to play comes now, as he must persuade critics that he didn’t create the film purely to win accolades.    

In the lead up to March’s Academy Awards, the American actor, 49, has been accused of ‘Oscar baiting’ with his latest role, pandering to the voters by ticking off a checklist of tropes typically favoured by awards bodies. 

Among the list is making unfeasibly good looking Hollywood stars look unattractive, spending excessive amounts of time method acting or learning a skill for a film, or starring in biopics.

Once a surefire way of ensuring a successful awards season run, Bradley – whose breakthrough role came in 2009 comedy The Hangover – has now become the subject of online backlash, with former fans claiming they’ve been put off by the star’s perceived desperation. 

Bradley Cooper, 49, has been accused of 'Oscar baiting' with his latest role in Maestro by pandering to the voters (pictured at the Oscars Nominees Luncheon this month)

Bradley Cooper, 49, has been accused of ‘Oscar baiting’ with his latest role in Maestro by pandering to the voters (pictured at the Oscars Nominees Luncheon this month) 

He spent six years preparing to become Leonard Bernstein in Maestro. Yet ironically, the hardest role Bradley  has has ever had to play comes now as he tries to reverse the backlash

He spent six years preparing to become Leonard Bernstein in Maestro. Yet ironically, the hardest role Bradley  has has ever had to play comes now as he tries to reverse the backlash

Recently, Bradley was roasted by fans after bursting into tears over 'missing' late Maestro composer Leonard - despite never meeting him

Recently, Bradley was roasted by fans after bursting into tears over ‘missing’ late Maestro composer Leonard – despite never meeting him

Bradley, who stars in, co-wrote, co-produced and directed Netflix’s Maestro, has been nominated in the Best Actor category at every major awards ceremony this year, but has failed to take home the top prize. 

He is not expected to take home his first Oscar this year, with Cillian Murphy tipped for Best Actor and Oppenheimer ahead for Best Film. 

Yet that hasn’t stopped Bradley continuing to blitz the promotional trail for Maestro, giving fans an insight into the gruelling process of becoming Leonard. 

It’s a tactic that has somewhat backfired, however, with fans mocking the actor for his tales. 

Earlier this week he was ridiculed after bursting into tears over ‘missing’ late Leonard – despite never meeting him. 

The acclaimed actor broke down in tears as he spoke during a resurfaced December interview with CBS Sunday Morning – surrounded by the composer’s children.

Leonard died aged 72 in 1990 when Bradley was just 15 and an aspiring actor – but The Hangover star said he felt the composer’s ‘energy’ during Maestro filming.

When asked if he missed Leonard, Bradley teared up as he said: ‘Oh, yeah. It’s hard to talk about.

‘I don’t know. We shared something very special, the four of us [referring to Leonard’s children Jamie, Nina and Alexander] It’s hard to even articulate, but he was with me, certainly, throughout the entire time.

‘His energy has somehow found its way to me and I really do feel like I know him.’ 

Bradley also raised eyebrows when he revealed he ‘always hated chairs’ on his sets and expressed that he wanted to keep his crew engaged in each project.

He explained: ‘I feel like your energy dips the minute you sit down.’

Bradley has also credited the spirit of Leonard’s dead wife for ‘choosing’ Carey Mulligan to play her in the movie. 

Asked how he cast the British actress in the movie, Bradley mused: ‘I believe Felicia chose Carey Mulligan and then pointed her in the direction of me. 

‘That’s the way I experienced it, quite honestly. The photos and videos of her during the research period all just screamed Carey Mulligan to me.’

Bradley is seen at the recent Golden Globes, where his reaction (pictured) to losing the Best Performance in a Motion Picture – Drama - to Cillian Murphy was mocked

Bradley is seen at the recent Golden Globes, where his reaction (pictured) to losing the Best Performance in a Motion Picture – Drama – to Cillian Murphy was mocked

For many, they seemed to dislike Bradley's desire to win top awards for his creative endeavour - with some mocking him for being 'desperate'

For many, they seemed to dislike Bradley’s desire to win top awards for his creative endeavour – with some mocking him for being ‘desperate’

Film lovers were quick to mock Hollywood’s former golden boy at the start of awards season when he first missed out on the Golden Globe to Cillian who starred in awards favourite, Oppenheimer. 

As the winner was announced, Bradley battled valiantly to smile graciously as Cillian was rewarded for his excellent performance, yet his disappointment was clear. 

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This prompted viewers to take to X (formerly Twitter), to mock his clear desire to pick up the award.

They penned: ‘Man, Bradley Cooper is *really* desperate for that Oscar’; ‘I’m living over how Bradley Cooper has turned himself into a joke all cuz he’s so painfully desperate to win awards we need more of this idk’;

‘I find myself endeared by Bradley Cooper’s desperate pursuit of artistic greatness; as if it can be achieved by sheer force of will’; ‘Bradley went over the top in preparation for his Maestro role and subtle-y dissed Cillian’s prep for his role at one point. It seems obvious he was desperate for recognition/awards for his acting but he’s probably not winning much if anything.’ 

‘This is gonna be a long awards season (bradley cooper is so desperate to win an oscar, it’s not even funny anymore).’; Bradley Cooper is just extremely desperate to win awards at this point and it’s so embarrassing tbh.’ 

Meanwhile, Michael Niederman, professor in cinema and television arts at Columbia College Chicago, has claimed Bradley’s tactics might not have just backfired with viewers but the critics too. 

He revealed there is ‘absolutely’ a danger of being seen as wanting an Oscar too much and putting off voters, sharing: ‘I understand how extraordinarily proud he is of the work he did on Maestro. 

‘I get that. It’s a personal, well-crafted piece that means the world to him.’

Adding of the publicity overkill Bradley has completed in recent weeks, Michael concluded: ‘If I don’t see a picture of Bradley Cooper for six months, that will be OK.’

Since January’s Golden Globes, Bradley has continued to be overlooked for his work in Maestro and was even snubbed in the Best Director category when the Oscars nominations were unveiled. 

The snub was no doubt a sore subject for the star, who made his feelings very clear when he didn’t receive any Oscars love for his directorial debut in 2018’s A Star Is Born. 

The movie was a critical success and nominated for eight Academy Awards, but Bradley said he was ’embarrassed’ because he wasn’t up for Best Director.

The snub will no doubt be a sore subject for the star, who made his feelings very clear when he didn't receive any Oscars love for his directorial debut in 2018's A Star Is Born (pictured with Lady Gaga in the movie)

The snub will no doubt be a sore subject for the star, who made his feelings very clear when he didn’t receive any Oscars love for his directorial debut in 2018’s A Star Is Born (pictured with Lady Gaga in the movie) 

The actor-filmmaker opened up during Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations from Times Square, confessing: ‘I was embarrassed. I was at a coffee shop in New York City and looked down at my phone and Nicole [Caruso, his publicist] has told me congratulations and said what we had been nominated for. 

‘They didn’t even give me the bad news. I was embarrassed because I felt I hadn’t done my job.’

Despite not being recognised for A Star Is Born, he clearly caught the directing bug as while he was on the promotional trail for the film he had already begun thinking about Maestro. 

If history repeats itself he’ll already be thinking about his next directing project. 

However, it remains to be seen if he’ll repeat the same mistakes as before or find a way to win over the critics.  

Are you Team Bradley or Team Cillian? As Cooper loses out on awards season to Murphy despite spending SIX years preparing for Maestro a look at how his strict method acting regime compared to Oppenheimer’s leading man

Bradley Cooper has been mocked by movie fans after losing the Golden Globe for Best Actor to Oppenheimer's Cillian Murphy (right) after hespent six years preparing for his role in Maestro

Cillian has been tipped for awards show success

Bradley Cooper has been mocked by movie fans after losing the Golden Globe for Best Actor to Oppenheimer’s Cillian Murphy (right) after he spent six years preparing for his role in Maestro 

How did Bradley Cooper prepare for Maestro?

Bradley’s work on Maestro began back in 2018 when he was attached to star as Bernstein in the project, with Steven Spielberg directing. 

When Steven pulled out of the project to dedicate more time to his West Side Story remake, self-professed lifelong classical music fan Bradley refused to let the project drop, instead putting himself forward as the new director. 

He convinced Steven to let him take over the role after showing him his directorial debut in A Star Is Born, with Maestro producer Kristie Macosko Krieger revealing that even on the promotional trail for his musical drama he couldn’t get Maestro off his mind and pitched her the idea then. 

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She told The Hollywood Reporter: ‘He was like, “Can I pitch you my idea for the opening of the film?” He pitched me, shot for shot, what we actually now see in a film in 2023. 

‘He thought about the movie for six years, nonstop. I would hazard a guess to say that I’ve probably received 3,000 texts from him, easily, over the course of us making the movie.’ 

As well as ensuring he could do the movie justice with his directing, Bradley ensured he embodied the role of the famed American composer by spending six years learning how to compose… for a six-minute scene.

The scene in question was capturing Bernstein’s iconic performance conducting the 1976 London Symphony Orchestra in Ely Cathedral, which ‘terrified’ Bradley.

He confessed during a tastemaker screening: ‘That scene I was so worried about because we did it live. That was the London Symphony Orchestra. I was recorded live, I had to conduct them.

‘And I spent six years learning how to conduct six minutes and 21 seconds of music,’ he admitted, while crediting his ‘wonderful teachers’ for all their help along the way.

‘I was able to get the raw take where I just watched Leonard Bernstein [conduct] at Ely Cathedral with the London Symphony Orchestra in 1976 and so I had that to study. 

‘And Yannick Nézet-Séguin made videos with all the tempo changes, so I had all of the materials to just work on,’ he continued.

Bradley completely transformed himself through the artful use of prosthetics and movie makeup into composer Leonard Bernstein for the biopic Maestro (right in 2022)

Bradley's work on Maestro began back in 2018 when he was attached to star as Bernstein in the project, with Steven Spielberg directing

Bradley completely transformed himself through the artful use of prosthetics and movie makeup into composer Leonard Bernstein for the biopic Maestro (right in 2022) 

Bradley used method acting to get into the psyche of Leonard Bernstein (pictured)

Bradley used method acting to get into the psyche of Leonard Bernstein (pictured) 

‘It was really about dialing exactly what I wanted cinematically and then inviting them into then inhabit that space and trusting that they have all done the work.

‘Because I think that I knew, I was terrified, absolutely terrified that if I hadn’t done the work that I wouldn’t be able to enjoy myself in these scenes. And everybody did.’

Bradley also practised method acting for the role, even staying in character while directing scenes. 

He explained that he has utilised method acting ever since starring alongside Christian Bale in 2018’s American Hustle, revealing: ‘I was playing Lenny throughout his life. I would spend three to six hours in the makeup trailer every day before the crew arrived. 

‘It was hilarious, because on days when I was young Lenny, the energy of the set was faster, and we got more done. And then when I was old Lenny, it had a slower gear. If you ask the crew or cast, Lenny directed the movie.

He added The Hollywood Reporter: ‘I have hand signals with the sound mixer and the camera operator. I don’t call action. After everything’s set up, I’ll just start talking and bring the actors, and often they don’t know we’re rolling. 

‘And then they’re like, “The scene’s over.” And they’re like, “Huh?” I’m [playing] Lenny Bernstein, so I’m not breaking in and out of character.’

When Steven pulled out of the project to dedicate more time to his West Side Story remake, self-professed lifelong classical music fan Bradley refused to let the project drop

When Steven pulled out of the project to dedicate more time to his West Side Story remake, self-professed lifelong classical music fan Bradley refused to let the project drop 

How did Cillian Murphy prepare for Oppenheimer? 

In comparison to Bradley’s six years of practise, Cillian had just six months to prepare for his role as American physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer. 

The Irish actor admitted that he got a call from director Christopher Nolan ‘out of the blue’ about the role. 

He told Collider: ‘I can’t think of any better word than it’s a dream. It sounds like such a cliché, but it’s the truth. But I had no idea he was going to call me. He just called me out of the blue. That’s his MO; you never hear from him and then he calls. 

‘So he called me, and I genuinely didn’t know what it would be, and then he said, “I’m making this movie about Oppenheimer and I would like you to play Oppenheimer.” It’s a big shock, and a very pleasant one, but then you kind of go, “Okay, now I have a lot of work to do.”‘ 

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Cillian added that that while his typical process of stepping into the shoes of a historical figure ‘would have taken more time,’ but admitted that ‘six months was good’ because they ‘just went straight at it’ the moment the call ended. 

Revealing how he immersed himself in the role, Cillian told The Guardian: ‘[I prepped by doing] an awful lot of reading. 

I’m interested in the man and what [inventing the atomic bomb] does to the individual. The mechanics of it, that’s not really for me — I don’t have the intellectual capability to understand them, but these contradictory characters are fascinating.’

He also studied the Bhagavad Gita, a 700-verse Hindu religious text that Oppenheimer would quote from; smoked fake cigarettes (the physicist died of throat cancer in 1967); and skipped meals in order to portray Oppenheimer’s gaunt frame. 

In comparison to Bradley's six years of practise, Cillian had just six months to prepare for his role as American physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer

The Irish actor admitted that he got a call from director Christopher Nolan 'out of the blue' about the role

In comparison to Bradley’s six years of practise, Cillian had just six months to prepare for his role as American physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer (right in 2017) 

Cillian said that 'six months was good' because they 'just went straight at it' the moment the call ended (pictured: physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer)

Cillian said that ‘six months was good’ because they ‘just went straight at it’ the moment the call ended (pictured: physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer) 

Cillian’s co-star Emily Blunt, who plays Oppenheimer’s wife, Kitty, told People that the actor skipped cast dinners because of the ‘monumental’ weight on his shoulders, with Cillian confessing: ‘I didn’t go out much. I didn’t socialize much, mainly because of the amount of work I had to do…. I became so immersed in the role.’ 

Emily also spoke about Cillian’s drastic transformation, telling how he only survived off an ‘almond a day’ in his gruelling diet and saying ‘he was so emaciated.’

Cillian warned that his transformation wasn’t ‘healthy’.

Speaking to the New York Times, the star confessed that he ‘loved’ the physicality of preparing for the role, telling how he wanted to lose weight to give Oppenheimer a ‘wide-eyed look’ to covey the fact that he ‘never ate’.

He said: ‘I love acting with my body, and Oppenheimer had a very distinct physicality and silhouette, which I wanted to get right.

‘I had to lose quite a bit of weight, and we worked with the costume and tailoring; he was very slim, almost emaciated, existed on martinis and cigarettes.

‘He had these really bright eyes and I wanted to give him this wide-eyed look, so we worked on his silhouette and expressions a lot before starting.’

Cillian confessed that he 'loved' the physicality of preparing for the role, telling how he wanted to lose weight to give Oppenheimer a 'wide-eyed look' to covey the fact that he 'never ate'

Cillian confessed that he ‘loved’ the physicality of preparing for the role, telling how he wanted to lose weight to give Oppenheimer a ‘wide-eyed look’ to covey the fact that he ‘never ate’

Who will win the Oscar? 

Oppenheimer has been tipped for an Oscars sweep when the ceremony takes place on Sunday, March 10. 

According to William Hill, it could be a good night for Cillian, who is now 1/4 from 2/5 to win the Best Actor accolade.

Following on behind is The Holdovers’ Paul Giamatti at 2/1 before Bradley at 12/1. 

In terms of Best Film, Maestro doesn’t even make it to the top four in odds, which are dominated by Oppenheimer at 1/10, Poor Things 9/1, The Holdovers 11/1 and The Zone of Interest 14/1. 

Spokesperson for William Hill, Lee Phelps, said: ‘Oppenheimer’s success at the BAFTAs came as no surprise, with the film and its connections cleaning up the main awards. 

‘As such, it’ll come as even less of a surprise if the film performs to the same level at this year’s Oscars.’

What are the fans saying? 

Taking to X, formerly Twitter, to share their reactions after Bradley’s Golden Globes loss, movie fans were quick to predict he was in for another series of blows in awards season. 

They were also quick to compare the difference in acting styles between the leading men and that the length of time preparing for their roles seemingly had no impact on their awards success.  

Taking to X, formerly Twitter, to share their reactions to Bradley's Golden Globes loss, movie fans have been quick to predict that he is in for another series of blows this awards season

Taking to X, formerly Twitter, to share their reactions to Bradley’s Golden Globes loss, movie fans have been quick to predict that he is in for another series of blows this awards season

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