Several months ago, Deadline reported that Bryan Cranston would star in the upcoming biopic Trumbo as Dalton Trumbo, the late Hollywood screenwriter and communist infamously blacklisted in the 1950s. Now, according to Variety, Helen Mirren may join the film as well.
Mirren’s addition to the film is certainly valuable, but it’s Bryan Cranston who figures to be top billed here, something that would have been unthinkable until just a few years ago. Cranston has been skyrocketing to the top of the A-list actors since his iconic turn as Walter White in AMC’s Breaking Bad (2008-13): he recently co-starred in Drive (2011) and the Oscar-winning Argo (2012), and he figures prominently into the upcoming Godzilla (2014) reboot.
Dalton Trumbo was perhaps the most famous of the legendary “Hollywood 10” screenwriters that stood up against the House Committee of Un-American Activities’s crackdown on Hollywood communists in the 1940s. He was notable for his strident and outspoken opposition to Hollywood’s blacklist and the whopping number of produced screenplays he wrote during his own tenure as a blacklisted screenwriter, including Roman Holiday (1953), Exodus (1960), and Spartacus (1960). Trumbo had to use pseudonyms and/or “front” nearly all of his screenplays during his exile, meaning he had to have others take the writing credits and then refer all or part of the payment to him. He even won two Academy Awards for writing at that time, but only under the identities of “fronted” screenwriters. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences later recognized Trumbo as the official recipient of the awards after the blacklist ended.
Trumbo seems to be a good match for director Jay Roach, whose newly found interests in politically charged true stories such as the TV films Recount (2008) and Game Change (2012) are far cries from his early comedies like the Austin Powers series (1997, 1999, 2002) and Meet the Parents (2000).
Janice Williams (Lola Versus , Very Good Girls ) and Michael London (Sideways , Win Win ), whose Groundswell Productions is also laying the film’s groundwork, will produce the film, along with the film’s scriptwriter, John McNamara (Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman [1993-1997], Fastlane [2002-2003]). Trumbo is McNamara’s first feature length film script, adapted from the book by Bruce Cook.
Although the film does not have a distributor or a release date yet, the profile of talents attached to the project already shows high potential.