Bradley Cooper: Conducting Is the “Scariest Thing I’ve Ever Done”

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As a child, Bradley Cooper would mime conducting an orchestra, and he asked for a baton from Santa. Decades later, as a filmmaker, he fulfilled his childhood dreams in the acclaimed new film “Maestro.” Cooper co-wrote and directed the movie, and co-stars as Leonard Bernstein, perhaps the greatest American conductor ever. In a pivotal scene, Cooper conducts the famous London Symphony Orchestra with a full chorus, in real time, through a performance of Mahler, which Cooper calls the “scariest thing I’ve ever done.” But the movie focusses less on Bernstein’s well-documented musical triumphs than on his extremely complicated personal life and marriage—as a proudly nonmonogamous bisexual—to the actress Felicia Montealegre, who is played in the film by Carey Mulligan. And, though aspects of shooting “Maestro” are the “scariest” things Cooper has ever done, he tells David Remnick: “This movie . . . I made absolutely fearlessly. And I knew I had to because that’s a huge element in Bernstein’s music. It is fearless.”


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