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Tom Hagen

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Teresa Hagen

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Theresa Hagen

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The Godfather's Revenge

Tom Hagen Great Movie Characters Tom Hagen in The Godfather The Huffington Post

The Godfather, The Godfather Part II

Vito Corleone, Sonny Corleone, Fredo Corleone, Peter Clemenza, Kay Adams‑Corleone

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Tom Hagen is a fictional character in Mario Puzo's novel Godfather and Francis Ford Coppola's films The Godfather and The Godfather Part II. He was portrayed by Robert Duvall in the films.


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Character overview

Tom Hagen Tom Hagen Wikipedia

Hagen is the informally adopted son of the mafia don Vito Corleone. He is a qualified lawyer and the consigliere to the Corleone mafia family. Mild-mannered and soft-spoken, he serves as the voice of reason within the family. The novel and first film establish that he is of German-Irish ancestry.

Sonny Corleone befriends 11-year-old Tom, who was living on the street after running away from an orphanage. When Sonny brings Tom home and demands he be taken in, the Corleone family allowed him to stay. Hagen considers Vito his true father, though Vito never formally adopts Tom, believing it disrespectful to Hagen's deceased parents. After law school, Hagen wanted to work in the Corleone business. His non-Italian ancestry precludes his formal membership into the mafia family but when consigliere Genco Abbandando dies, Hagen is given his position. This results in the other New York families derisively calling the Corleones, "The Irish Gang."

Though Hagen immerses himself in the Sicilian-American lifestyle, and speaks Sicilian, he has a "non-Italian" physical appearance. His Northern European appearance being advantageous to his work, allowing him to travel and conduct family business openly without potential witnesses remembering him.

While Hagen loves all the Corleones, he idolizes Sonny, and blames himself for Sonny's murder. When Vito semi-retires in 1954, and his youngest son, Michael, succeeds him as the operating head of the family, Michael removes Hagen as consigliere, preferring his father informally assume the role. Hagen is thus restricted to handling the family's legitimate business. Michael claims Hagen is not a "war-time" consigliere. In the novel, Hagen later tells Michael that he figured out the real reason that he was demoted, though this reason is only alluded to.

The novel and first film portray Hagen aiding Vito and Michael Corleone in warring against the other ruling New York Mafia families. In The Godfather Part II, set in the late 1950s, Hagen serves as Michael's right-hand man during his power struggle with Hyman Roth. In The Godfather Part III, set in 1979-1980, he is said to have died some years before in an unspecified manner. His role in the story between the second and third films, including his death, is portrayed in Mark Winegardner's sequel novels, The Godfather Returns and The Godfather's Revenge.

The Godfather (novel and film)

In both the novel and film, Hagen is introduced as an important member of the Corleone family. As a child he grew up in a broken family, the son of an abusive alcoholic. Sonny Corleone finds the orphaned Hagen living on the street and suffering from a bad eye infection. Sonny takes him home and demands he live with the Corleone family. Vito Corleone becomes a surrogate father to Hagen, but never officially adopts him out of respect for the boy's father.

In the novel, Hagen asks to work for Vito after graduating from law school, knowing full well that his adoptive father is the most powerful Mafia chief in the nation. Vito is more than willing to take Hagen into his employ, having often said that lawyers can steal more than a phalanx of gangsters. Hagen marries an Italian woman, Theresa, with whom he has two sons, Frank and Andrew, and a daughter, Gianna.

After longtime consigliere Genco Abbandando is diagnosed with terminal cancer, Hagen becomes consigliere, succeeding to the post formally after Abbandando's death. Vito is initially reluctant to give Hagen the post full-time, considering that he is not a Sicilian.

When famous singer/actor Johnny Fontane seeks his godfather Vito's help in securing a movie role that could revitalize his sagging career, Vito dispatches Hagen to Hollywood to persuade Jack Woltz, a big-time movie producer, to cast Johnny in his new war film. Hagen offers his benefactor's help with Woltz's union problems and also informs him that one of his actors has graduated from marijuana to heroin; a deleted scene in the movie shows that this information would be used to damage Woltz's studio. Woltz rebuffs Hagen, but becomes cordial after learning he works for the Corleones. Woltz still refuses to cast Fontane, who slept with one of Woltz's protégées, but offers to do any other favor for the Corleones. Hagen declines, and soon after, Woltz awakens in bed with his prized racing stallion's severed head planted under the covers, causing him to cast Fontane in the film.

Hagen arranges a meeting between Vito and drug lord Virgil Sollozzo. Sollozzo wants Vito to help finance his narcotics business and provide legal protection and political influence. Hagen is commended for discovering that Sollozzo is also collaborating with the Tattaglia Family, a rival to the Corleones. Vito ultimately rejects the deal, however, on the grounds that Vito would lose his influence over the judges and police if they knew he was dealing in drugs.

Sollozzo has Hagen kidnapped off the street. Sollozzo informs Hagen that Don Corleone has been shot and killed, and he wants Hagen to persuade Sonny to accept his narcotics deal. Hagen promises to calm Sonny down, but warns Sollozzo that Luca Brasi, the Don's fanatically loyal bodyguard and hitman, will launch a violent reprisal. Unbeknown to Hagen, Sollozzo and Bruno Tattaglia have murdered Brasi. The meeting is interrupted when Sollozzo receives word that Don Corleone survived the shooting, ruining Sollozzo's original plan. Hagen is allowed to leave unharmed, with Sollozzo telling him to make a deal.

Hagen is devastated when the Barzini Family murder Sonny. He tearfully informs Vito of his son's death. Vito semi-retires in 1954, and his youngest son, Michael, becomes operating head of the family. Michael removes Hagen as consigliere in favor of having his father informally fill the position, restricting Hagen to handling the family's legal business in Nevada, Chicago, and Los Angeles. Michael and Vito explain that the Corleones risk inciting a fight with the planned move to Nevada, and they need a "wartime consigliere". Though hurt, Hagen accepts the decision and remains loyal. In truth, Michael and Vito have been planning to wipe out the other New York Dons to avenge Sonny and establish the Corleones' supremacy — an operation kept secret even from Hagen. In the novel (and in a deleted scene from the film), Hagen notices that bodyguard Rocco Lampone has been secretly promoted to caporegime and hitman Al Neri reports directly to Michael and rather than through Clemenza and Tessio. Neri and Lampone will play a key role in Michael's plan to assassinate the rival Dons.

Hagen is present when Tessio is taken away to be executed for betraying the family and is also present when Connie's husband, Carlo Rizzi, is killed for his complicity in Sonny's death years earlier. Although Hagen is hardened to violence and accepts that treachery is never forgiven, in the novel he feels sickened by Tessio's imminent death and had even asked if Tessio could be spared.

In the novel, Michael's wife, Kay learns that Michael ordered his brother-in-law Carlo's death and flees to her parents' home in New Hampshire. Michael sends Hagen there to persuade Kay to return. Hagen ultimately risks his own life by "hypothetically" revealing some family secrets to Kay so she can understand Michael's motives behind his actions.

The Godfather Part II

In The Godfather Part II, Hagen remains Michael's lawyer after their move to Nevada but much to his dislike, his role in the family has been reduced. For instance, he was excluded from the negotiations with Hyman Roth. After an assassination attempt is made on Michael's life, Michael realizes he cannot trust anyone in his inner circle. Assuring their fraternal bond and explaining that he withholds information from him out of admiration, Michael proclaims Hagen acting Don while he leaves and attempts to uncover his betrayer. In reality, Michael only gave Tom this position and trusted him exclusively because he barely knew enough to make moves against him. However, Hagen's promotion marks his renewed influence in the family and secures the formerly abrasive Senator Pat Geary's forced cooperation.

The fall of Fulgencio Batista's regime in Cuba forces Michael to temporarily abandon his plans to become a legitimate businessman, and he resumes his role as the Don of the Corleone family. During the Senate hearings on the Mafia, Hagen is instrumental as the defense for a questioned Michael. Near the end of the film, Hagen is unable to disguise his displeasure over Michael's increasing ruthlessness and paranoia, questioning the need to kill an already dying Hyman Roth. In response, Michael confronts Hagen about his competing job offers, and obliquely threatens to inform Hagen's wife about his mistress. Challenged point blank to confirm his loyalty to the Corleone Family, Hagen responds to Michael (in Sicilian) that he remains loyal. He dutifully fulfills his role as legal adviser, and also in the consigliere's traditional role as dispassionate Family envoy. He gives Frank Pentangeli, who had betrayed Michael, the "idea" of committing suicide so that Pentangeli's family will continue to be cared for, while agreeing with Pentangeli that the Corleone Family are no longer "like the Roman Empire".

The Godfather Part III

According to The Godfather Part III, Hagen has already died before the timeframe of the film, 1979–1980. There is no specific indication in the film as to when or how he died, except that it was prior to his son, Andrew, being ordained a Roman Catholic priest.

The Godfather Returns

The Godfather Returns, Mark Winegardner's 2004 sequel to Puzo's original novel, portrays Hagen's role as consigliere in the first few years after Michael ascends to the head of the family. The novel, which covers the period from 1955-1962, portrays Hagen once again acting as Michael's right-hand adviser and taking an important role in the Corleones' dealings with a powerful political family, the Sheas (analogous to the Kennedys). Hagen makes a deal with patriarch Mickey Shea (Joseph Kennedy) that the Corleone family would help get his son, James, (John F. Kennedy) elected President on condition that his youngest son, Danny (Robert Kennedy), the new attorney general, would take a soft stance on organized crime. Meanwhile, Hagen has sights on a political career, running for a Congressional seat in Nevada (which Hagen was initially appointed to) with the ultimate goal of becoming the state's governor; he is badly defeated, however, and abandons any hopes of holding public office.

The novel also portrays Hagen covering up for Michael's brother Fredo when he kills a man in San Francisco, and bailing him out of jail when he attacks his wife's lover. Hagen and Fredo get into an intense argument over Fredo's recklessness and Hagen's blind loyalty to Michael. When Michael has Fredo killed (as originally portrayed in The Godfather Part II), he guesses what really happened, but remains willfully ignorant.

Toward the end of the novel, Hagen personally murders Corleone rival Louie Russo, who conspired with the novel's antagonist, traitorous Corleone caporegime Nick Geraci.

The Godfather's Revenge

In Winegardner's 2006 novel The Godfather's Revenge, Hagen acts as Michael's right-hand man in dealing with the Shea family, especially Attorney General Danny Shea, who publicly declares war on organized crime. When Hagen's longtime mistress, Judy Buchanan, is murdered by thugs working for Don Carlo Tramonti, Hagen becomes a person of interest in the investigation.

In August 1964, Geraci kidnaps Hagen and drowns him in the Florida Everglades. Geraci then sends Michael a package containing a dead baby alligator along with Hagen's wallet. This message is similar to the one Sonny received in the original novel following Luca Brasi's death, in which Brasi's bulletproof vest containing two dead fish was delivered to the Corleone compound. Michael later has Geraci ambushed and murdered.

The novel also expands on how Hagen became an unofficial member of the Corleone family. Hagen recalls that when he was living on the streets, he saved Sonny Corleone from a pimp who was notorious for raping and murdering boys. Sonny was so grateful that he brought Hagen home to live with his family.

Video Games

Hagen is a constant factor in the Xbox video game based on the first movie. He offers advice and material support to the protagonist, Aldo Trapani.

Behind the scenes

The Hagen character was originally to have been featured in The Godfather Part III, but was written out due to a salary dispute between Duvall and the film's producers. Coppola has stated that Part III was to feature a split between Michael and Hagen as its central plot, as seeds of dissension were planted in the first two films. Coppola stated in the film's commentary that Duvall demanded the same salary as Al Pacino (who portrayed Michael Corleone). However, Duvall said in an interview that he was happy for Pacino to earn twice his salary, but not triple or quadruple it for the same film.


  • Vito Corleone – Unofficial adopted father
  • Carmela Corleone – Unofficial adopted mother
  • Santino, Michael, Fredo, and Connie Corleone – Unofficial adopted siblings
  • Theresa Hagen – Wife
  • Frank and Andrew Hagen – Sons
  • Gianna Hagen – Daughter
  • References

    Tom Hagen Wikipedia