Back in May 2018, two Leonard Bernstein biopics were announced within a week of each other. One had Jake Gyllenhaal on board to star with Cary Joji Fukunaga directing. The other was being set up by Bradley Cooper with Steven Spielberg producing. It looked like this could be the biopic version of Deep Impact vs Armageddon, but it looks like only one film will see the light of day.
That film is Cooper’s, as Netflix will reportedly back the film. Cooper also holds the rights to Bernstein’s story, having previously negotiated the rights with the Bernstein family. Netflix naturally sees the project as a potential awards contender. It will be Cooper’s follow-up to A Star Is Born, and he will co-write the script alongside Oscar winner Tom McCarthy (Spotlight).
In addition to that, not only is Spielberg still producing, but Martin Scorsese is as well. Scorsese was at one point considering directing the Bernstein project himself before his attention shifted to The Irishman.
The story will reportedly span 30 years and focus on the marriage between Bernstein and his wife, Felicia Montealegre. Cooper has reportedly always been fascinated with conducting, and the “charged and complex relationship between Bernstein and his wife is what compelled Cooper to make the film his next directorial outing”, according to Deadline.
Cooper has also been working closely with Bernstein’s children for the past two years to get the details right on the story. He certainly seems very committed, and perhaps that’s what led to this project winning out over the Gyllenhaal/Fukunaga one, which has seemingly fallen by the wayside.
Obviously attention now turns to who will play Bernstein. Whenever this biopic arrives, expect Netflix to put their weight behind it as they did for other awards contenders like Roma and Marriage Story. Don’t expect the film until 2021 or 2022 though. If you need your Cooper fix before then, he is starring in Guillermo Del Toro‘s next project, Nightmare Alley.