A complete transformation. Bradley Cooper is totally unrecognizable as legendary composer Leonard Bernstein in the first photos of his upcoming Netflix film, Maestro.
The streaming service released a sneak peek at the upcoming biopic — which the Licorice Pizza actor, 47, co-wrote and directed — on Monday, May 30, which give fans a look at Cooper portraying different periods in the famed conductor’s life. In one still, he and costar Carey Mulligan, who plays Bernstein’s wife Felicia Montealegre, are grinning in a theater, while another shows Bernstein framing a shot while on the set of one of his films.
However, it was the snaps of Cooper portraying an older Bernstein that sent social media into a frenzy. “The makeup on Bradley Cooper as Leonard Bernstein in Maestro is INSANE,” one Twitter user wrote, while another predicted that the project would earn him critical acclaim. “Bradley Cooper is going for that Oscar. He completely transforms physically to Leonard Bernstein,” the second user wrote.
Maestro marks the first film that Cooper has co-written and directed since the 2018 remake of A Star is Born, and the actor revealed in January that it has been a longtime dream of his to step into the West Side Story composer’s shoes. “I wanted to be a conductor since I was a kid. I was obsessed with it, asked Santa Claus for a baton when I was 8,” the Pennsylvania native told Mahershala Ali in January during a conversation for Variety’s Actors on Actors series. “Listening to music, falling in love with it and being able to really know every single moment of a piece … I could do it as if I know everything about it without really being able to speak the language, obviously.”
Though Stephen Spielberg was originally set to helm the film, the Oscar nominee ultimately took over the project. “He had this biopic idea and was talking to me about potentially acting in it. … And I said, ‘Listen, all I want to do is write and direct movies. I always felt like I could play a conductor, but may I research the material and see if I can write it and direct it? Would you let me do that?’” he recalled.
Cooper continued: “I think he knew he wasn’t going to make that movie for a while. He was kind enough to hand it off to me, and that’s what I’ve been doing for the last four and a half years, and we start shooting in May.”