Bryan Cranston’s mustache practically won its own Emmy at August’s award ceremony, but the Breaking Bad star was already hard at work on his next big project. Cranston was letting it grow to play Dalton Trumbo, the successful Hollywood screenwriter who was blacklisted by the studios after he failed to cooperate with Congress’ House Committee on Un-American Activities in 1947.
Trumbo, directed by Jay Roach, tells the story of the writer’s stand against the communist witch-hunt at the height of the cold war, his professional exile, which included an 11-month stint in prison for contempt of Congress, and his battle with powerful red-hating gossip columnist Hedda Hopper (Helen Mirren).
Trumbo—who had been a member of the communist party during World War II when the Soviets were a major American ally—was punished for his principled stand for free speech and the Constitution, and the ensuring uproar, in which others like Elia Kazan did name names, ripped Hollywood apart. Eventually, Trumbo found his way back into Hollywood, writing several scripts under pseudonyms during his exile. Two of them—Roman Holiday and The Brave One—won Academy Awards, and in 1960, Kirk Douglas weakened the blacklist when he publicized Trumbo’s work on Spartacus.
Trumbo recently wrapped filming in New Orleans, and is scheduled for release in 2015, with Bleecker Street distributing. Diane Lane plays Trumbo’s wife, Cleo; Elle Fanning plays their daughter, Nikola; the cast also includes John Goodman, Michael Stuhlbarg, Louis C.K., and Alan Tudyk.