“Welcome back to the world of movie screenings,” enthused Lin-Manuel Miranda at Monday night’s screening of Maestro. The playwright was joined onstage by the film’s cast including Vogue November cover star Carey Mulligan, Matt Bomer, and co-writer/director Bradley Cooper, who echoed Miranda’s introduction. “We’re very excited to be here in front of all of you,” Cooper said.
The group took part in a post-show Q&A in the private theater of the Whitby Hotel in front of a starry crowd with boxes of popcorn and candy including Fran Lebowitz, Kyra Sedgwick, Dianna Agron, Kevin Bacon, Brooke Shields, Brian Cox, Patrick Wilson, Michael Kors, Liya Kebede, Mark Ronson, Chloë Grace Moretz, and Sandra Bernhard.
It was the first time members of the cast got together for a promotional activity since the lift of the SAG-AFTRA strike last week. (Though Maestro premiered at the Venice Film Festival this year, the actors were absent on the red carpet.)
Also in attendance was the family of Leonard Bernstein, the legendary American conductor-composer whom Cooper rivetingly portrayed in the symphonic film, his directorial follow-up to 2018’s A Star Is Born. It centers on Bernstein’s complicated marriage with his actor-wife Felicia Montealegre, played by Mulligan.
Maestro will have a limited theatrical release on November 22 before hitting Netflix on December 20—though, if you can catch it in theaters you must, if only for that crescendoing scene of Bernstein passionately conducting Gustav Mahler’s Resurrection symphony toward the end of the film.
“I think it was in our first meeting that Bradley said, ‘I want you to do this but if you’re going to do it you have to really go all in,’ and I said ‘Yeah’ but in my head, I was thinking, ‘Not really,'” quipped Mulligan to laughs from the audience. “I just fell in love with [Montealegre]. I thought she was the coolest and I wanted to be her. When I stopped getting to play her I felt really mournful. I felt like I was in a really good theater run and I didn’t want it to stop.”
Meanwhile, Bomer addressed his character David Oppenheim’s relationship and affair with Bernstein. “There’s a great deal of correspondence available in the Library of Congress webpage between him and Lenny,” Bomer said. “I was able to track pretty much their entire relationship in his own hand and Lenny’s response to that. That was a great free backstory that I got.”
Before the Q&A wrapped up and guests made their way to a champagne reception, Cooper reflected on his dual role for the project. “People often say it’s so hard to act and direct but I think it almost feels like cheating with how easy it is because you’re on the field it’s like the quarterback being able to call the plays himself,” he noted. “It was about spending time with each person and downloading them on what I wanted cinematically and then inviting them in to inhabit that space.”