Bradley Cooper is unrecognizable in first images from Netflix's Maestro

Bradley Cooper in Maestro
(Image credit: Netflix)

Do you hear that? That's the sound of Netflix clearing space on its shelf for the Oscars it'll likely win for its upcoming Leonard Bernstein biopic, Maestro, as it offers our first look at an almost unrecognizable Bradley Cooper in the title role.

Maestro is said to span 30 years in the famous American conductor, composer, author and pianist's life, with Cooper playing Bernstein throughout various stages of his life alongside Carey Mulligan as his wife, Felicia Montealegre.

As you can see from the images above and below, we expect Maestro to at least be a shoo-in for the Best Makeup and Hairstyling Academy Award, with Cooper sporting some of the most convincing old age prosthetic makeup we've ever seen, courtesy of Kazu Hiro.

Apart from his acting duties on the film, Maestro is Cooper's long-awaited directorial follow-up to the award-winning megahit A Star Is Born, and sees him also take on co-writing duties alongside Spotlight screenwriter Josh Singer.

The film originally started out as a potential project for Steven Spielberg to direct. As explained by Cooper in a recent interview on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Spielberg only wanted Cooper to act as Bernstein initially, but became convinced he should also direct it partway through his first viewing of A Star Is Born.

Spielberg, who famously said Netflix films should not win Oscars, would stay on as producer alongside Martin Scorsese. Coincidentally, Spielberg went on to direct a remake of West Side Story, which features music written by Bernstein. You can watch this portion of Cooper's interview with Colbert below.

As pointed out by Deadline, Leonard Bernstein's extraordinary life could fill an entire Netflix series – the conductor was thrust into stardom at age 25 when he filled in for a sick Bruno Walter to lead the New York Philharmonic at Carnegie Hall with less than 24 hours notice.

He was later accused of being a communist due to he and his wife's political outspokenness and civil rights activism, which included support for the Black Panther Party, landing him on the FBI's security index.

This would lead to his blacklisting in Hollywood, only to have his reputation cleared right before he composed his score for On The Waterfront, directed by Elia Kazan, who infamously "named names" of suspected communists in the filmmaking industry and who would go on to become a Hollywood pariah.

Needless to say, Cooper has plenty of material to work with in Maestro, which is expected to release on Netflix after a small theatrical run (for awards purposes) sometime in 2023.

Stephen Lambrechts
Senior Journalist, Phones and Entertainment

Stephen primarily covers phones and entertainment for TechRadar's Australian team, and has written professionally across the categories of tech, film, television and gaming in both print and online for over a decade. He's obsessed with smartphones, televisions, consoles and gaming PCs, and has a deep-seated desire to consume all forms of media at the highest quality possible. 

He's also likely to talk a person’s ear off at the mere mention of Android, cats, retro sneaker releases, travelling and physical media, such as vinyl and boutique Blu-ray releases. Right now, he's most excited about QD-OLED technology, The Batman and Hellblade 2: Senua's Saga.