Bradley Cooper wanted to fully immerse himself in the role of Leonard Bernstein for his sophomore directorial effort, “Maestro.”

That meant Cooper, who co-wrote, directed, produced, and starred in the Netflix film, after much prep work, would often only appear in front of cast and crew after he had physically transformed to resemble Bernstein. Makeup artist Kazu Hiro told Entertainment Weekly that Cooper spent over five hours in hair, makeup, and prosthetics prep to transform into the elderly composer/conductor, with “Maestro” spanning the majority of the composer’s adult life.

“The last stage, the whole time, our call time was one in the morning,” Hiro said. “The other thing was he wanted makeup to be finished before the crew call, so he would appear as Lenny to set up the shoot and everything. That also kind of made our call time two hours earlier than normal, so that was quite tough.”

The two-time Oscar-winning makeup artist added, “The last stage, he had covered pretty much everywhere, the bodysuit and arms. That took over five hours.”

Cooper also endured a two-and-a-half-hour process to play Bernstein in his 20s.

“[We had to] keep adding because as he gets older, we had to add more elements,” Hiro said. “The younger stage was the nose and lips and chin and a wig. After the third stage, he started having cheek and neck [additions].”

Bernstein’s signature prominent nose was a point of controversy in early clips from “Maestro.” The film debuted at Venice and screened as a Centerpiece showcase at NYFF.

“I wasn’t expecting that to happen,” Hiro said during the Venice Film Festival press conference about divided reactions to Cooper’s prosthetic nose. “I feel sorry that I hurt some people’s feelings.”

Hiro continued, “My goal was and Bradley’s goal was to portray Lenny as authentic as possible. Lenny had a really iconic look that everybody knows. There’s so many pictures out there because he’s photogenic, too. [He was] such a great person and also inspired so many people, so we wanted to respect the look, too, on the inside. So that’s why we did several different tests and went through lots of decisions, and that was the outcome in the movie.”

Late composer Bernstein’s children, Jamie, Alexander, and Nina Bernstein, issued a statement defending the prosthetic nose soon after the first trailer premiered, acknowledging Cooper’s non-Jewish heritage when portraying a Jewish musician.

“Bradley Cooper included the three of us along every step of his amazing journey as he made his film about our father,” the statement read. “It breaks our hearts to see any misrepresentations or misunderstandings of his efforts. It happens to be true that Leonard Bernstein had a nice, big nose. Bradley chose to use makeup to amplify his resemblance, and we’re perfectly fine with that. We’re also certain that our dad would have been fine with it as well. Any strident complaints around this issue strike us above all as disingenuous attempts to bring a successful person down a notch — a practice we observed all too often perpetrated on our own father.”

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