In the 1940s, Dalton Trumbo is one of the highest paid screenwriters in the world. A fixture on the Hollywood social scene, and a political activist supporting labor unions, equal pay and civil rights, Trumbo and his colleagues are subpoenaed to testify in front of the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) as part of its sweeping probe into communist activity in the U.S. Trumbo's refusal to answer the congressmen's questions lands him in a federal prison and earns him the eternal enmity of powerful anti-communist gossip columnist Hedda Hopper. For the next 13 years, all of the major Hollywood studios refuse to hire Trumbo for fear of being associated with his perceived radical political views. Forced to sell his home and ostracized by friends, colleagues and neighbors, Trumbo struggles to feed his family by writing mostly low-budget movies under assumed names. But he never gives up fighting for what he believes in. Ultimately, Trumbo prevails when star Kirk Douglas and director Otto Preminger each put the screenwriter's real name on screen in their respective 1960 blockbusters, Spartacus and Exodus, effectively bringing the blacklist era to an end.