Bradley Cooper’s first directorial effort, A Star Is Born, won Lady Gaga an Oscar for Best Original Song. And his second, the upcoming Leonard Bernstein biopic Maestro, might win for Best Hairstyling and Makeup—because the first photos of Cooper, (who also plays Bernstein), and costar Carey Mulligan, who’s taking on the role of Bernstein’s wife, Felicia Montealegre, from the set show a real transformation. The two A-Listers look nearly unrecognizable.
Production on the project has been delayed for over a year, but it’s apparently in full swing as photos from a scene shot in New York City’s Central Park suggest. Montealegre died in 1978, meaning that the scene caught by paparazzi was likely set sometime in that decade.
Bernstein was a multifaceted composer and conductor, though his best-known work remains West Side Story—he composed the score for the original 1957 musical. Maestro is believed to focus on Bernstein’s marriage to Montealegre, the activist, actress, and socialist. But that comes with the caveat that, by several accounts, Bernstein was a gay man. He had several relationships with men during his life (Matt Bomer will play one of his lovers in the film) and left Montealegre at one point to live with a man, but returned after she was diagnosed with lung cancer, which eventually claimed her life. Despite Bernstein’s sexuality, the pair did love each other and had three children together (actress Maya Hawke will play one of their daughters).
Considering the pair first married in 1951, it’s also likely that Mulligan and Cooper will not spend the entire film done up in elaborate hair and makeup. But we’ll have to wait a while to know for sure. Netflix has already snagged distributions rights, and at the moment, the film is scheduled for a 2023 release. We’re going to hope the film gets far more Oscar nods than just for makeup (he was famously snubbed in the directors category for A Star Is Born), but from the photos alone, it does look like a possible frontrunner in that particular category, at least.