Shot “live on stage, on film,” Dalton Trumbo's JOHNNY GOT HIS GUN is a cross between Lars Von Trier's Dogville and Jonathan Demme and Spalding Gray's stage monologue, Swimming to Cambodia. All of the action takes place on stage in a black box theatre with minimal scenery. Ben McKenzie gives a riveting tour-de-force performance as an American soldier hit by an artillery shell on the last day of World War I. The movie takes place in the mind of 'Joe Bonham', a quadruple amputee who has also lost his eyes, ears, nose, and mouth. Regaining consciousness, Joe discovers that while his brain is healthy and able to reason, the rest of his body is irreparably shattered, leaving him trapped forever within the confines of his own imagination. He struggles valiantly to find some way to communicate with the outside world. Tapping his head in Morse code, he breaks through and pleads with his caretakers to be put on display as a living example of the cost of war.

The film is adapted from the 1982 Off-Broadway play, Dalton Trumbo's JOHNNY GOT HIS GUN.


Dalton Trumbo's JOHNNY GOT HIS GUN, adapted for the stage by Bradley Rand Smith, was first presented Off-Broadway in 1982 at the Circle Repertory Theatre, starring a then unknown 28-year old actor by the name of Jeff Daniels. Daniels won an Obie Award for his performance in the play and has since gone on to become one of Hollywood's most versatile leading men, having played everything from villains and cads to heroes and romantic leads to tragic figures and lovably goofy idiots, in movies of almost every genre.

Adapted from the 1939 National Book Award-winning novel, JOHNNY GOT HIS GUN, most of play's dialogue is taken word-for-word from the book.


Written by legendary literary icon, Dalton Trumbo in a “stream of consciousness style,” JOHNNY GOT HIS GUN



Study Guide now available!

A study guide is now available for Dalton Trumbo's JOHNNY GOT HIS GUN. The study guide is meant to compliment the film and the novel by stimulating class discussion and encouraging critical thinking among students. Click Here to download the guide.




LA TIMES: " 'O.C.' heartthrob Ben McKenzie talks war, Dalton Trumbo and his role as a man trapped in his body in 'Johnny Got His Gun'…" [more]

READING EAGLE: "Rowan Joseph re-imagines an anti-war classic…The Berks-bred actor, director and producer brings a World War I novel to the screen in a theatrical style, starring Ben McKenzie of 'The O.C.' and 'Junebug.' The film opens Friday at the GoggleWorks…" [more]

VARIETY: "An antiwar literary classic reaches the bigscreen (again) via stage translation in "Dalton Trumbo's Johnny Got His Gun." That circuitous route benefits the interior monologue of a soldier robbed of speech, sight and limbs, struggling to maintain sanity in his hospital bed…" [more]

OAKLAND TRIBUNE: "'JOHNNY GOT HIS GUN' HAS SMALL BUDGET, BIG MESSAGE - It's not the most high-powered film-publicity juggernaut, but it could be the most sincere…" [more]

WFMZ-TV CHANNEL 69 NEWS: Watch video of director Rowan Joseph being interviewed by Channel 69 News on the film's opening at the GoggleWorks Theater in his home town of Reading, PA. [more]

AUSTIN AMERICAN STATESMAN: "Antiwar classic pairs TV actor, stage director on the big screen - Benjamin McKenzie, like his primary medium, is cool. Rowan Joseph, like his, is warm, very warm…" [more]

COMMON SENSE 2: "In this Thanksgiving season we should be thankful that directors like Rowan Joseph will make an important movie like this instead of just another big-buck thriller…" [more]

OH MY NEWS (Korean Publication): "McKenzie is compelling in a role that by its nature must rely on the power of Trumbo's words. I hope this artfully shot little film will inspire viewers to pick up Trumbo's 1939 novel. I read the book in high school, and upon re-reading it recently was impressed by how well it stands the test of time…" [more]

AUSTIN360.COM: "A soldier's play premieres on-screeen - It's a brave choice for the 30-year-old McKenzie…" [more]

NPR: KUT Radio: Julie Moody interviews actor Ben McKenzie and director Rowan Joseph. [more]

NPR: KUT Radio: John Aielli interviews actor Ben McKenzie and producer Wesley Horton. [more]

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: "A more recent project of yours is a film called Johnny Got His Gun [which is based on Dalton Trumbo's 1930s novel and was previously made into a movie in 1971]. Will that be released in theaters?…" [more]

VENICE MAGAZINE: "Building a diverse body of work was clearly important to McKenzie from the start of his career, as it is today. The O.C. wrapped its run in 2007, and McKenzie has sought out an interesting group of indie projects since then, including the upcoming Johnny Got His Gun, an adaptation of the famed Dalton Trumbo novel…" [more]

AUSTIN HIGH SCHOOL NEWSPAPER: "AHS Alum gives advice to aspiring actors and others - Austin High School alum Benjamin McKenzie, former star of the popular television drama The O.C., returned to Austin High School on Monday, September 22…" [more]

BLACK BOOK MAGAZINE: "…a heady mix of Samuel Beckett's Happy Days, Lars Von Trier's Dogville, and Pat Barker's Regeneration." [more]

Click HERE to download the 8/20 Press Release.


Click on the images below to download the high resolution version.


PRESS PHOTO 1 'Joe Bonham' (Ben McKenzie) contemplates the meaning of time.


PRESS PHOTO 2 'Joe Bonham' (Ben McKenzie) struggles to awaken from his nightmare of drowning in the Colorado River.


PRESS PHOTO 3 'Joe Bonham' (Ben McKenzie) is utterly alone in his own mind in "Dalton Trumbo's JOHNNY GOT HIS GUN."


PRESS PHOTO 4 'Joe Bonham' (Ben McKenzie) takes a moment to rest from working iȱKÌAÕaضí#@5»Âe desert D’† /font>


PRESS PHOTO 5 "It's dawn!" Despite his lack of sight, 'Joe Bonham' (Ben McKenzie) 'sees' the sunrise for the first time since losing most of his face to an artillery shell explosion.


PRESS PHOTO 6 "My left arm." 'Joe Bonham' (Ben McKenzie) strains against the unseen forces around him as they work to amputate his arm after being severely wounded.


PRESS PHOTO 7 Actor Ben McKenzie watches a take with director Rowan Joseph on the set of "Dalton Trumbo's JOHNNY GOT HIS GUN." Photo by Derek Van Oss.


PRESS PHOTO 8 Stunned and horrified, 'Joe Bonham' (Ben McKenzie) gazes blankly into the void that is now is life.


PRESS PHOTO 9 Director Rowan Joseph focuses on a camera set-up as actor Ben McKenzie looks on during a break in filming. Photo by Derek Van Oss.


PRESS PHOTO 10 Actor Ben McKenzie, director Rowan Joseph, and producer Shane Partlow watch the previous take as the camera is reloaded on set. Photo by Derek Van Oss.