Bradley Cooper’s multi-faceted role in the upcoming film Maestro goes beyond acting, as he also takes on the roles of director and co-writer.
The transformation into the iconic conductor Leonard Bernstein demanded a deep dive into character development, evident in both his physical appearance and his portrayal of the maestro’s speaking voice.
During a recent press conference at the New York Film Festival, makeup designer Kazu Hiro shared intriguing details about Cooper’s preparation for the role. Cooper’s commitment to authenticity led to the creation of a unique tool: a nose plug with various-sized holes.
Hiro explained that Cooper wanted to “talk like and sound like Lenny,” so the nose plug, worn inside the prosthetic nose, resulted in a distinctive “nasally” voice. The makeup artist also widened Cooper’s prosthetic nose to match Lenny’s distinctive facial features, further enhancing the transformation.
Cooper’s dedication extended beyond physical changes; since much of the film’s music is performed live, he undertook a crash course in conducting.
Yannick Nézet-Séguin, the film’s conducting consultant, commended Cooper’s thorough research and detailed approach. “We didn’t start from scratch. It was more to take where he was and give him some technical assurance whilst leaving him free to be Leonard Bernstein as an actor,” he said.
Nézet-Séguin’s role was not to start from scratch but to provide technical guidance while allowing Cooper to embody Leonard Bernstein as an actor.
Co-writer Josh Singer revealed Cooper’s extensive preparation, including listening to personal recordings and tapes of the Bernstein family. This immersion enabled Cooper to create dialogue that captured the essence of Bernstein’s character without relying on external sources.