Watch Bradley Cooper Transform Into Leonard Bernstein

Kazu Hiro is fast on his way to becoming one of the most celebrated craftsmen in Hollywood. The prosthetic makeup designer, two-time Oscar winner (for “Darkest Hour” and “Bombshell”), and recent New Yorker magazine subject is in the Oscar race again. Last week, Hiro received his fifth nomination for his exemplary work on the Leonard Bernstein biopic “Maestro.”

Hiro and actor-director Bradley Cooper are featured in the exclusive video (above), which chronicles the painstaking and time-consuming process of transforming Cooper, then 47, into five different ages in Bernstein’s life, from 25 to 71.

“Each stage is a different application,” says Hiro in the video. “The youngest look typically took two hours and 15 minutes and the last stage was about five hours. (Cooper) was completely covered, including arm and body suits, because we had to also change the posture of his body.”

The video features a time-lapse depiction of the makeup application process, as Cooper is transformed beneath layers of Hiro’s authentic prosthetics. The makeup designer explains that Cooper desired to test all of the five different makeup looks at the Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles – during one 24 hour period, so that the actor could test each makeup look while conducting an orchestra.

“We did all the looks and I wanted to conduct (music) in those looks, just to see if it didn’t look like an SNL sketch,” says Cooper. And afterwards, “Kazu looked like he’d just run two marathons in a row.”

The makeup was so convincing that it even impressed Bernstein’s own kin. The famed conductor, who died in 1990, had three children with his wife Felicia Montealegre (played by Carey Mulligan in “Maestro”). Two of his kids are featured in the video.

Makeup artist Kazu Hiro (left) and actor Bradley Cooper on the set of “Maestro” (credit: Netflix)
Bradley Cooper in "Maestro" (Netflix)
Bradley Cooper in “Maestro” (credit: Netflix)

“Bradley would occasionally send us text photographs and show us the progress of his being transformed into Leonard Bernstein at different ages of Bernstein’s life,” says real-life eldest daughter Jamie Bernstein (who’s played by Maya Hawke in the film).

His other daughter, Nina Bernstein- Simmons, recounts a moment during the film’s production when she received a FaceTime call from a California phone number. “It (was) my father,” she said. “I just couldn’t stop laughing. It was Bradley.”

For more on the makeup mastery in “Maestro,” including more images of Cooper’s transformation in the role, check out the whole video above.


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