Leonard Bernstein’s Children Condemn Critiques of Bradley Cooper’s Prosthetic Nose in ‘Maestro’: It ‘Breaks Our Hearts’
ManOfTheCenturyMovie Film Bradley Cooper in ‘Maestro’ and 32 Other Actor Transformations

Bradley Cooper in ‘Maestro’ and 32 Other Actor Transformations



Leonard Bernstein’s Children Condemn Critiques of Bradley Cooper’s Prosthetic Nose in ‘Maestro’: It ‘Breaks Our Hearts’

When the trailer for Bradley Cooper’s Leonard Bernstein biopic “Maestro” hit the internet this August, all most people wanted to talk about was that nose. In the film, out via Netflix this November, Cooper plays Bernstein himself and wears a large prosthetic nose in the role, in addition to extensive old age makeup for scenes set during the legendary composer’s later years. It’s a look that inspired significant outcry and controversy, although Bernstein’s children have defended Cooper’s transformation from its critics.

Cooper’s “Maestro” follows a bevy of projects released or announced in the last few years featuring actors radically transforming themselves for their roles. Brendan Fraser looks entirely different as an overweight man looking to connect with his daughter in Darren Aronofsky’s intensively divisive “The Whale,” and the thing about Renée Zellweger is that she can really transform into another person. The “Bridget Jones’ Diary” star took on playing alleged real-life murderer Pam Hupp for NBC’s “The Thing About Pam.” The true crime docudrama centers on Midwestern suburban mom Pam, who is facing charges for multiple murders. (Hupp is currently in prison for a 2016 killing.)

“It seems like she’s of generous character, that she’s thoughtful, and that she’s a good friend,” Zellweger told Vanity Fair of the role. “I guess that’s part of the deception, isn’t it? Because you might assume that that’s as far as it goes.”

Zellweger donned “head to toe” prosthetics and a padded suit to fully embody Pam. “It was the choice of clothing, it was the briskness in her step-step-step, her gait,” the Oscar winner said. “All of those things were really important because all those bits and pieces are what construct the person that we project our own conclusions and presumptions onto.”

And Lily James sent social media ablaze when the first photos from Hulu’s limited series “Pam and Tommy” dropped, and showed her unrecognizable transformation into Pamela Anderson. (Truly, the “Baby Driver” and “Cinderella” actress looks more like Anderson than she does herself.) In 2021, Jessica Chastain packed on prosthetics to play televangelist Tammy Faye Bakker. That same year, MGM had everyone talking with the trailer for “House of Gucci,” which showed off Jared Leto’s bonkers look as Paolo Gucci.

Whether achieved through natural methods (weight loss, weight gain) and/or boosted by makeup and prosthetics, actor transformations have been shocking TV and film viewers for as long as the mediums have existed.

Some actors have made a career out of buzzy physical transformations, none more so than Christian Bale. Many times, physical transformations lead to Oscar recognition, as it did for Bale (“The Fighter”), Charlize Theron (“Monster”), Matthew McConaughey (“Dallas Buyers Club”), and Marion Cotillard (“La Vie en Rose”), among others. But a transformation is nothing without the performance underneath it, as many of the actors below will stress.

Check out some of the most impressive actor transformations in the list below, including Sean Penn in “Gaslit,” Colin Farrell in “The Batman,” and more.

(Editor’s note: This list was originally published in May 2021 and has been updated multiple times since.) With editorial contributions by Wilson Chapman.

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