Bradley Cooper will not be attending the Venice Film Festival premiere of his new film “Maestro” in solidarity with the SAG-AFTRA strike, festival spokeswoman Lazzarin Michela told TheWrap on Monday. While Cooper directed “Maestro,” he also stars as Leonard Bernstein in the Netflix biopic. His decision not to travel to Venice for next month’s festival is in support of the striking actors.
It is another sign of how the ongoing writer and actor labor stoppages, which have no end in sight, are making this year’s awards season exceptionally complicated. Luca Guadagnino’s “Challengers” — starring Zendaya — was supposed to open the festival until MGM moved its release date to late April 2024. Whether we see more festival shake-ups, release date delays or copious off-camera talent (alongside the striking writers) forgoing their promotional roles in solidarity, it is possible that this year’s awards race will be requiring as much of an asterisk as we saw in 2020.
This year’s Venice International Film Festival, set for Aug. 30-Sept. 9, had already garnered controversy by booking new films from Roman Polanski and Woody Allen outside of competition. Films booked for the Venice main competition include Yorgos Lanthimos’ “Poor Things” (which Disney just moved to a Dec. 8 wide release date), Sofia Coppola’s “Priscilla,” Michael Mann’s “Ferrari,” Ava DuVernay’s “Origin” and David Fincher’s “The Killer.”
With the DGA having notched a deal with the AMPTP weeks before the actors went on strike, the marquee helmers can theoretically still appear and promote their films. However, Cooper is stepping back, due to his support of those currently on the picket lines.
“Maestro” is Cooper’s second feature film directorial effort following the blockbuster hit “A Star Is Born.” That acclaimed musically focused romantic drama also premiered at Venice five years ago, after which it went on to earn relatively rapturous reviews, $436 million at the worldwide box office and eight Oscar nominations, including Best Actress (Lady Gaga), Best Actor (Bradley Cooper) and Best Picture. It won the Best Original Song Oscar for “The Shallows,” which Cooper and Gaga performed live at the 2019 Academy Awards.