TIFF: Dalton Trumbo's Daughters Join Bryan Cranston at THR Dinner Celebrating Jay Roach-Directed Biopic

The Bleecker Street release was feted in Toronto on Friday night at a dinner attended by cast members Elle Fanning and John Goodman.

Bryan Cranston has a way with words.

The Emmy Award-winning actor, who plays blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo in the festival selection Trumbo from director Jay Roach and upstart distributor Bleecker Street, was just one of the many guests of honor at a Sept. 11 dinner hosted by THR and presented by American Airlines at chic Italian eatery Cibo Wine Bar on King Street West in Toronto. But he was the VIP who offered the best description of the intimate affair.

“As Trumbo says in the movie, there’s a great line that summarizes the movie and it’s this: We all have the right to be wrong,” said Cranston before dessert, referencing his character, the writer of Oscar-winning films The Brave One and Roman Holiday. “That’s about tolerance and acceptance of opinions that you don’t share.”

There have been many opinions shared about Hollywood’s blacklist era, of which Trumbo remains the most well-known character to emerge from that saga of Tinseltown history. However, talk of that time didn’t carry conversations inside Cibo. Instead, the energy was light and the mood celebratory ahead of the Sept. 12 TIFF premiere.

During pre-dinner cocktails, Roach told THR how excited he was to see the movie on screen alongside a local audience. “Toronto is such a great place for this movie. It’s a movie about movies. I feel the love for movies when I come here,” said Roach, last in Toronto for Borat which he produced. “This is an environment -- a loving environment – that celebrates the heritage of film.”

Toasting the Trumbo debut with Cranston and Roach were cast members including John Goodman, Elle Fanning and Michael Stuhlbarg. Representing the executive ranks were Bleecker were CEO Andrew Karpen and marketing guru Tyler Dinapoli along with eOne president and CEO Darren Throop. The night proved to be an anniversary party of sorts as Bleecker Street showed a strong Toronto presence one year after stepping onto the indie film scene.

Producers Michael London, Janice Williams, Monica Levinson, Nimitt Mankad, Shivani Rawat and Kevin Kelly Brown were on hand to support their film along with THR’s executive editor Matt Belloni, film editor Gregg Kilday and awards analyst Scott Feinberg.

The film’s screenwriter John McNamara, who adapted the script from a Bruce Cook-penned biography, also attended and accepted hugs and congratulations from many of the night’s dinner guests. A few of those guests rank high among the aforementioned guests of honor category. In attendance: Trumbo’s daughters Mitzi and Nikola and Nancy Escher, the wife of Christopher Trumbo, the late son of Dalton Trumbo who passed away in January 2011. (Dalton Trumbo passed away on Sept. 10, 1976). Fanning plays Nikola in the film and she talked to THR minutes after meeting “Niki” for the first time.

“I had never met her, we only emailed each other, but she’s here tonight. I was like, ‘Oh my God!’” explained the actress, joined at the dinner by her manager from Echo Lake, Brittany Kahan, and in Toronto for two premieres including Trumbo and About Ray. “We took a lot of photos and I thanked her. She did visit the set but I had already finished filming. She told me that she had already seen the film but on a little TV screen, so we’re reunited at the Toronto Film Festival and we both get to see it with a real audience on a giant screen.”

The reunion put a smile on London’s face. “Being here with Niki Trumbo and Mitzi Trumbo makes it feel that much more personal and that much more intense because they’ve gone on a longer journey than us. We work on a movie for five years but they’ve lived this world and this story for 60 or 65 years,” said London, who also debuted his Oscar-nominated Sideways in Toronto. “The fact that their father’s story and the story of their childhood is now being told in this fashion and that they can be here with us is really, really great. We worked really really closely with them, and it was a fascinating process because every family is complicated and every sibling has a different version of what the story was and so we, at times, were just telling their dad’s story and at times telling separate stories for each of them. Collaborating with them was one of the great joys of making the movie.”

Joy is a good word to describe Rawat’s emotional state. She not only produced but financed the film and  was elated to be in Toronto sharing Trumbo’s story. “It’s a part of the industry I’m living in and it’s the history I never knew before I read the story. Jay Roach is the best director for such a strong story, so I couldn’t ask for anything better,” she said. “Getting to Toronto is a dream come true to celebrate the team’s hard work. We’re really lucky.”

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