In 1915 Los Angeles, stuntman Roy Walker (Lee Pace) is hospitalized, bedridden and possibly paralyzed after taking a jump in his first film. He meets Alexandria (Catinca Untaru), a young Romanian-born patient in the hospital who is recovering from a broken arm, and begins to tell her a story about her namesake, Alexander the Great. Alexandria is told she has to leave, but Roy promises to tell her an epic tale if she returns the next day.
The next morning, as Roy spins his tale of fantasy, Alexandria’s imagination brings his characters to life. Roy’s tale is about five heroes: a silent Indian warrior (Jeetu Verma), a muscular ex-slave named Otta Benga (Marcus Wesley), an Italian explosives expert called Luigi (Robin Smith), Charles Darwin (Leo Bill) with a pet monkey called Wallace, and a masked swashbuckling bandit. An evil ruler named Governor Odious (Daniel Caltagirone) has committed an offense against each of the five, who all seek revenge. The heroes are later joined by a sixth hero, a mystic.
Alexandria vividly imagines her friends and people around her appearing as the characters in Roy’s story. Although Roy develops affection for Alexandria, he also has an ulterior motive: by gaining her trust, he tricks her into stealing morphine from the hospital pharmacy. Roy intends to use the morphine to commit suicide because the woman he loves has left him for the actor for whom he provided the stunt footage. However, Alexandria returns with only three pills, having mistaken the “E” on the piece of paper Roy gave her for a “3”. The stories become a collaborative tale to which Alexandria also contributes. Alexandria herself becomes a character: while Roy is the masked bandit, she is his daughter.
Roy talks Alexandria into stealing a bottle of morphine tablets locked in a fellow patient’s cabinet, and then downs it all. The next morning, Roy awakens from his sleep and realizes he is only alive because his neighboring patient is receiving a placebo rather than actual morphine. Alexandria, desperate to help Roy, sneaks out of bed to the pharmacy. She climbs onto the cabinet but loses her footing, falls, and is badly injured. She receives surgery, after which she is visited by Roy, where he confesses his deception. He encourages Alexandria to ask someone else to end the story, but she insists on hearing Roy’s ending. Roy reluctantly begins the rest of the story.
The heroes die one by one, and it seems that Governor Odious will be triumphant. Alexandria becomes upset, and Roy insists, “It’s my story.” She declares that it is hers too and exerts some influence on the course of the tale. Finally, the epic tale comes to an end with only the Bandit and his daughter remaining alive and Governor Odious dying. Roy and Alexandria, along with the patients and staff of the hospital, watch a viewing of the finished “flicker” that Roy appeared in. With everyone laughing, only Roy’s smile is broken in confusion when he sees that his life-threatening jump has been edited out of the film as another stuntman jumps instead.
Alexandria’s arm heals and she returns to the orange orchard where her family works. Her voice-over reveals that Roy has recovered and is now back at work again. As she talks, a montage of cuts from several of silent films’ greatest and most dangerous stunts plays; she imagines all the stuntmen to be Roy.