Bryan Cranston has signed onto director Jay Roach’s biopic Dalton, about the Oscar-winning, outspoken, Blacklisted Hollywood screenwriter Dalton Trumbo. Roach is hoping to get the project in front of cameras next year. John McNamara’s screenplay for the project is an adaptation of the book by Bruce Cook.
Trumbo was sent to prison for eleven months in 1950 for refusing to testify before the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC). At the time he was one of Hollywood’s highest paid screenwriters. Unlike the more visible actors and directors named on the Blacklist, Trumbo was able to continue working upon his release, submitting a number of screenplays that were produced under pseudonyms. For over a decade that Trumbo had to work in secret he authored 18 screenplays.
It was during this time that he managed to win two Academy Awards, bittersweet victories that neither he nor the film industry could publicly acknowledge at the time. His first Oscar was for the romantic comedy Roman Holiday, though it wasn’t revealed that he was the film’s author until 1993. Ian McLellan Hunter, who acted as a “front” for Trumbo, was the initial credited writer on the film and had originally received the Oscar statuette. Trumbo’s second Oscar was for The Brave One (1956), penned under the name Robert Rich. It wasn’t until 1975 that the Academy officially recognized Trumbo as the winner and presented him with an Oscar.
Trumbo didn’t get public acknowledgement for his work until 1960 when director Otto Preminger insisted that he receive an on screen credit for the epic Exodus. That inspired Kirk Douglas to push for Trumbo being credited as the writer of Spartacus. When the studios saw that there was no actual repercussions from Trumbo’s involvement with the films being made known, the power that the Blacklist had over Hollywood was discredited and faded away, thus ending a shameful chapter in American history.