By Nicole Sperling
Updated November 06, 2015 at 09:01 PM EST
Bleecker Street

Dalton Trumbo was quite a colorful character. The 1950s blacklisted screenwriter at the center of Trumbo smoked too much, drank too much, and suffered from a bad back. He also happened to be a communist, which didn’t sit well with the Sen. Joe McCarthy or the conversative wing of Hollywood, including actor John Wayne and gossip columnist Hedda Hopper.

Bryan Cranston, who has won four Emmys for his portrayal of Walter White in AMC’s Breaking Bad, has taken on this enigmatic writer, who won two Oscars for Roman Holiday and The Brave One but wasn’t able to claim either under his real name due to his blacklisted status.

“I was fortunate, because Dalton Trumb was a very theatrical man, and he had idiosyncrasies that were delicious to play,” Cranston says. “Those kind of things are like handles to an actor.”

Watch the clip above to get a feel for how Cranston transformed into Trumbo.

Trumbo, co-starring Diane Lane, Helen Mirren, Louis C.K. and John Goodman opens in select theaters Friday, and is set to expand nationwide on Thanksgiving.