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In the photos released from set, a ’50s-era Cooper is rendered in black and white alongside Carey Mulligan as Bernstein’s wife, actress Felicia Montealegre. He’s also miraculously aged up to portray the conductor in the 1980s, when he was in his 60s, using makeup and a wig. In one snap, he sits behind a desk, virtually unrecognizable as a cigarette burns between his fingers; in another, he paces in an auditorium as he waves his finger, either conducting the action on stage or giving a note.
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The biopic of the West Side Story composer is being produced by Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg and Todd Phillips, with Cooper also taking the reins as the film’s director and co-writer. Slated to premiere on the streamer in 2023, Maestro will also star Carey Mulligan, Jeremy Strong, Matt Bomer and Maya Hawke. Production kicked off last week at Tanglewood, the iconic music venue in western Massachusetts that serves as the summer home for the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
Cooper’s flick actually beat a competing Bernstein biopic to the punch. Tentatively titled The American, the rival film was supposed to star Jake Gyllenhaal with Cary Fukunaga in the director’s chair. However, last year, Gyllenhaal and co. reportedly lost the exclusive rights to Bernstein’s life and work when the late Tony winner’s estate assigned them to the Cooper project.
Of course, West Side Story — arguably Bernstein’s most famous work — received an acclaimed revival on the big screen last year starring Ansel Elgort, Rachel Zegler, Rita Moreno and Ariana DeBose, the latter of whom took home the Academy Award for best supporting actress thanks to her role as Anita.
Get a look at Cooper as Bernstein below.