Back in May 2018, we reported that dueling Leonard Bernstein biopics were in the works. One was from Bradley Cooper with Steven Spielberg producing and the other was from Cary Fukunaga with Jake Gyllenhaal set to star as the famous composer. Now it looks like the Cooper project has clearly won out with Deadline reporting that Netflix will back the film and Cooper holding the rights to Bernstein’s story.
Deadline reports that the untitled Bernstein film is shaping up to be a major prestige player for Netflix with Cooper not only making the project his follow-up to the acclaimed A Star Is Born but also co-writing the script with Spotlight writer Josh Singer. He’s also got Spielberg producing alongside Martin Scorsese (Scorsese was at one point planning to make the Bernstein film himself, but chose to let Cooper take a crack at it when The Irishman became Scorsese’s primary focus). Cooper will also producer alongside producing partner Todd Phillips (both are nominated for Best Picture this year for Joker).
As for the story of the film, it will span 30 years and focus on the marriage between Bernstein and his wife, Felicia Montealegre. Per Deadline, “Cooper has always been fascinated with conducting, but the charged and complex relationship between Bernstein and his wife is what compelled Cooper to make the film his next directorial outing.” Cooper has also been working closely with Bernstein’s children for the past two years to get the details right on the story.
I’m a big fan of A Star Is Born, so I’m here for whatever Cooper wants to do as his follow-up. Netflix, for its part, will give the film the same prestige treatment it provided for Roma and The Irishman with a theatrical rollout and a marketing blitz to position the movie for success at the Oscars. Filming is expected to begin early next year, so it remains to be seen if the Bernstein movie will be ready for 2021 or if it might get pushed into 2022. In the meantime, Cooper is set to star in Guillermo del Toro‘s next movie, Nightmare Alley.