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Carey Mulligan says amount of material to study for Maestro role was ‘daunting’

British star Carey Mulligan said the amount of original video tapes and recordings of the character she plays in the film Maestro was “initially the most daunting thing”.

The actress, 38, said it turned out to be a “joy” playing Felicia Montealegre, the wife of esteemed conductor and composer Leonard Bernstein, in the upcoming Netflix biopic starring Bradley Cooper.

Appearing at a special screening of Maestro at Picturehouse Central in London, Mulligan told the PA News Agency: “It was initially the most daunting thing having that much (material) because there was so much.

“So many videos, so many photos (and) recordings of Felicia and (I remember) initially thinking to try and find that felt really daunting at first.

Maestro screening
Bradley Cooper and Carey Mulligan arrive for a special screening of Maestro at Picturehouse Central in London (Jonathan Brady/PA)

“And then once we found it, it felt like the easiest thing in the world because of all the work that we did to get to that point – so it was a joy.”

Cooper, 48, said the actors adopted the couple’s “dynamic and a rhythm and a musicality with which they walked through life”.

He told PA: “There’s so much primary source material that was at our disposal and the children themselves, we were able to immerse ourselves in the world of the Bernstein’s via their children, their house in Fairfield we were able to do go there and do our own preparation, hanging out with the children.

“It was all there for us, we were able to put the time and work in so that we can then really get out of the way and channel these people more than acting like these people.”

Cooper said the film is about exploring the couple separately and then when they’re together during “various stages throughout their relationship”.

It comes after the children of Leonard Bernstein defended Cooper’s use of “make-up to amplify his resemblance” to the late composer in the film, after coming under fire for not using acting to “get the power of the man’s story and Jewishness”.

Cooper has had nine Oscar nominations, including for his leading role in A Star Is Born opposite Lady Gaga.

While Mulligan has starred in a host of critically acclaimed films including Emerald Fennell’s Promising Young Woman, which earned her an Oscar nomination, Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby and 2022’s She Said – which sees her play one of the New York Times reporters that exposed Harvey Weinstein’s history of abuse to women.