Dalton Trumbo is a successful screenwriter, until he and his friends are blacklisted for their political beliefs. Trumbo is sent to prison for 11 months. When he is released he is unable to find work and must resort to ghostwriting.
But who cares! The real star of the movie is Trumbo’s cockatiel. I’m certain his pet tiel inspired him to create such works as Roman Holiday and Spartacus, films for which he was eventually recognized.
Sido enjoyed this movie. She looked up Trumbo and his pet cockatiel and found that, according to director Jay Roach,
“You saw the pictures in the credits of him with the bird on his head. His daughter would find a wounded bird and he would [take it in] and then Kirk Douglas recognized that he loved birds so much, so he bought him that parrot – I think it’s a cockatoo [it’s a cockatiel]. And he named it Sam Jackson, which was the pseudonym. Sam Jackson was the name that Dalton Trumbo used to write Spartacus.
So when Otto Preminger (Christian Berkel) says, “Oh, it’s a distraction”, he [Trumbo] says “no, he wrote Spartacus.” He is referring to his own pseudonym. Kirk knew that he loved birds and it was a way to win him over. He carried that bird around and he really would let it kiss his lips. And Bryan, on the set – the bird would be chewing on his ear.”