Every so often a film comes along with an actor who has truly transformed into the role through makeup- think Meryl Streep in The Iron Lady or Christian Bale in Vice. Now Bradley Cooper has stepped into the makeup chair (for what we can only assume took hours) to portray conductor Leonard Bernstein- and yes, he looks totally unrecognisable.

Made by Netflix, Maestro is set to release next year, but photos of Cooper during filming have already been released by Netflix. The film is a based on the life of Leonard Bernstein, the hugely influential conductor and composer who was the first American conductor to find worldwide fame and praise. While there’s not a huge amount of plot details that have been released yet, Netflix has given some idea about what to expect.

Cooper (who also directs) plays Bernstein in both his youth and older age, and the film will likely touch on important points of his life like humanitarism, opposition to the Vietnam War, as well as his scoring of West Side Story and performance of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony in Berlin. The film also stars Carey Mulligan as his wife Felicia Montealegre, and there’ll be a lot of focus on their marriage and its ups and downs. Though the pair both had a love and admiration for each other, the marriage had difficulties due to Bernstein’s homosexual orientation. Alongside the main two in the cast is Mark Strong, Maya Hawke and Sarah Silverman in supporting roles.

Though Maestro focuses on Bernstein’s life, the creators behind the film have aimed to not make a biopic in the traditional sense, with the usual cliches and story beats you’d normally expect- Jamie Bernstein, one of the children of the couple, said “it’s not a biopic, strictly speaking, it doesn’t tell the story of Leonard Bernstein from birth to death – it’s not that kind of a film at all. In fact, it’s a portrait of our parents’ marriage. It’s about something very specific and very personal.”

With the film still a year away, more details and a trailer will arrive in the coming months, and presumably plenty of details about how Cooper was transformed into the role. For now though, you can marvel at the incredible makeup work shown in the photos above.


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