Bradley Cooper had an issue. The Oscar-nominated actor was gearing as much as play Leonard Bernstein, the musical genius behind “West Aspect Story” and “Candide” and one of many driving cultural forces of the twentieth century. Besides, Cooper seemed nothing just like the distinctive composer and conductor.
Enter Guillermo del Toro. The 2 males mentioned Cooper’s predicament on the set of del Toro’s “Nightmare Alley,” which the actor starred in whereas working to get “Maestro,” his take a look at the non-public lifetime of Bernstein, off the bottom. Cooper confessed that he wanted to be remodeled, and in response to del Toro, just one individual was proper for the job: Kazu Hiro. The Oscar-winning make-up artist had used his reward for prosthetics to rework Gary Oldman into Winston Churchill in “The Darkest Hour.” When Cooper despatched Hiro a textual content asking if he was , he jumped on the probability.
Nonetheless, the duty was daunting: Hiro was required to make Cooper as plausible as Bernstein at numerous factors in his life: as a 25-year-old composer stepping on the Carnegie Corridor stage for the primary time and a wistful, aged man sitting at a piano conducting one in every of his final interviews.
And a few selections — particularly the choice to present Cooper a prodigious prosthetic nostril — have been criticized as antisemitic (Bernstein was Jewish; Cooper just isn’t). After the primary photos surfaced, Cooper confronted a social media backlash. In flip, Bernstein’s daughters issued an announcement saying, “It occurs to be true that Leonard Bern- stein had a pleasant, massive nostril. Bradley selected to make use of make-up to amplify his resemblance, and we’re completely positive with that. We’re additionally sure that our dad can be positive with it as properly.”
Hiro agrees. “We wished the look to be as genuine as attainable,” he explains. “He’s iconic and other people know what he appears like. As with every film, we put an actor in a dressing up, and we construct units to make audiences consider the story, and make-up is part of that.” And the artist insists that the aim was to assist Cooper shape-shift convincingly: “We respect Lenny and his look. He’s so good-looking and proficient and an incredible composer and conductor. And once we hearken to his music, we consider how he performed, so it was necessary to make Bradley as shut as attainable to Lenny.”
Cooper’s make-up transformation course of consisted of a number of levels. One of many first appears, during which Cooper performs a youthful Bernstein, took about two and a half hours to attain, and concerned making use of lip and chin items together with the prosthetic nostril. “We modified Bradley’s earlobe form,” Hiro says. “Bradley had talked about that Lenny has a definite voice, and he wished me to make nostril plugs to vary the best way his voice sounded. So I made ones that pushed out his nostril wing. We gave him a face-lift across the temples that may pull the eyes out and make them youthful.”
As Bernstein aged, the make-up turned extra intense. Hiro added yellowing to the prosthetic items across the cheek and neck. He utilized a bald cap and added stipple round Cooper’s brow and eyes to create wrinkles. The ultimate scenes, simply earlier than Bernstein’s loss of life in 1989, required 5 hours of make-up and masking. Hiro created a full-body swimsuit, together with prosthetics for the eyes, nostril, lips, neck, shoulders and arms.
Hiro recollects Cooper’s dedication as each actor and director on “Maestro.” As a result of he was juggling so many obligations, Cooper would get to set earlier than the crew to start the metamorphosis into Bernstein. By the point everybody arrived to start out capturing, “[Cooper] can be on the market in full make-up able to go.”
For Hiro, nothing can prime his work on “Maestro.” “I instructed Bradley that after this, I might retire,” he says. “That is every thing I’ve wished to do within the film business.”