‘Trumbo’: Bryan Cranston Like You’ve Never Seen Him Before


Forget Walter White – Bryan Cranston is back on the big screen with a new role and it’s totally unlike anything he’s ever done before. In the first trailer for his upcoming movie Trumbo, the actor shows off a much quirkier side, playing real-life Hollywood screenwriter Dalton Trumbo.

Directed by Jay Roach, Trumbo chronicles the true story of the titular screenwriter, who penned classic films like Roman Holiday and Spartacus and was also an avowed Communist. The writer was part of the “Hollywood 10,” a group that was cited for contempt of Congress and blacklisted from the industry in 1947 after refusing to answer questions about their involvement with the Communist party. Despite being banned, Trumbo continued to write screenplays under pseudonyms (including Stanley Kubrick’s Spartacus) and even won two Oscars (for The Brave One and Roman Holiday) while blacklisted.

It’s the kind of story that Hollywood loves to turn into film – an enigmatic, if eccentric, personality conquers political persecution, with the added bonus of being an industry insider. From the looks of the trailer though, it’s Cranston that will set this project apart from other prestige biopics. The actor clearly had fun inhabiting the role, donning a carefully groomed mustache and glasses and carrying cigarette holders around for the part.

But it’s the non-physical elements that look to make another fantastic performance from Cranston. The star embodies Trumbo’s personality in full force, bringing ample sarcasm and dry humor to the role. Case in point? “Many questions can be answered yes or no only by a moron or a slave,” his character says to the committee in the trailer.

If Cranston cracking witty one-liners isn’t enough to sell you on the movie (and it should be), Trumbo also features a stellar supporting cast. Helen Mirren, Elle Fanning, Diane Lane, and John Goodman all co-star in the film, as do Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Louis C.K., Alan Tudyk and Michael Stuhlbarg.

For Roach, the movie marks a change of pace from the comedic fare he’s best known for. The director has a long history helming broad, farcical films, including Austin Powers, Meet the Parents, Dinner for Schmucks, and most recently the political comedy, The Campaign. Still, he’s been taking on more serious projects in recent years, including the political dramas Recount and Game Change that he helmed for HBO. Trumbo seems to stay in the same vein as the latter work, taking a turn into more dramatic material while still maintaining a darkly comedic undertone.

Given the historical subject matter, the star-studded cast, and what figures to be a stellar performance from Cranston, this movie seems destined to become a part of the award season conversation this year. Based on the trailer alone, it seems safe to say Cranston, in particular, will likely get plenty of positive critical attention for his individual performance. Audiences will have to stay tuned to see what kind of buzz the film gathers on the festival circuit.

In the meantime, the actor is keeping busy. This month, he will film HBO’s All the Way, in which he plays the 36th president of the United States, Lyndon Baines Johnson. On the feature film side, he has three movies set to hit the big screen next year: the crime drama Infiltrator, James Franco’s In Dubious Battle, and Kung Fu Panda 3, in which he lends his voice to the character of Li.

Trumbo will make its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in September, before opening in limited release on November 6.

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