Tom Hagen

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Tom Hagen
Robert Duvall portraying Tom Hagen
Robert Duvall portraying Tom Hagen
First appearance The Godfather
Last appearance The Godfather II
Created by Mario Puzo
Portrayed by Robert Duvall
Gender Male
Occupation Lawyer/Consigliere
Family Corleone family
Spouse(s) Theresa Hagen
Children Frank, Andrew
Relatives Martin Hagen (father), Bridget Hagen (mother), unnamed sister, Vito Corleone (adopted father), Carmela Corleone (adopted mother),

Thomas Feargal "Tom" Hagen is a fictional character in the Godfather books and films. He was portrayed by Robert Duvall in the films.[1] He is the informally adopted son of Don Vito Corleone, a qualified lawyer and the consigliere to the Corleone Mafia family.[2] 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.

He was found homeless at age 11 by Sonny Corleone, who took him home to see him taken in by the Corleone family. Although the Don never formally adopted Tom, thinking that this would be an act of disrespect to Hagen's parents, Hagen thought of Vito Corleone as his true father. After graduating from law school, Hagen offered to work for Corleone as though he were one of the Don's own sons. His non-Italian ancestry precluded his formal membership in the Mafia, but after the death of Genco Abbandando, Hagen acted as consigliere to Don Corleone.

While Hagen loved all the Corleones, he always idolized Sonny, and Hagen blamed himself when Sonny was murdered. When Vito moved into semi-retirement in 1954, and his youngest son Michael became the operating head of the family—on his father's advice—Michael removed Hagen as consigliere in favor of having his father take the role on an informal basis, thus restricting Hagen to handling the family's legal business in Nevada, Chicago, and Los Angeles. Michael declared that if he needed advice, he would turn to his father – "the best possible consigliere".

The Godfather[edit]

In the film, Michael Corleone calls Hagen his brother. 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. Hagen is saved by Sonny Corleone, who finds him on the street and takes him in to live with the Corleone family. Vito Corleone becomes a surrogate father to Hagen, but does not officially adopt him out of respect for the boy's father.

In the novel, Hagen offers to work for Vito after going through 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, telling him that lawyers can steal more than a phalanx of gangsters. Hagen marries an Italian, Theresa, and has two sons, Frank and Andrew.

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

After Connie Corleone's wedding, Vito dispatches Hagen to Hollywood in order to persuade Jack Woltz, a big-time movie producer, to give singer/actor Johnny Fontane (Vito's godson) the lead role in his new war film. When Hagen first approaches Woltz, he offers help with some union trouble. Hagen then tells Woltz that one of his actors has moved from marijuana to heroin; a deleted scene in the movie shows that this information was going to be used to expose the star and thus hurt Woltz's studio. Woltz at first angrily refuses, but becomes more cordial once he finds out for whom Hagen works. Woltz invites him to his palatial house for dinner, and shows him his prized stud horse, Khartoum. During the dinner, Woltz tries to work out another deal with Hagen, but in the end refuses to cast Fontane, who had slept with one of his protégées, and angrily tells Hagen to leave his house. Hagen complies, but men working for the Corleones break into Woltz's stables and decapitate Khartoum, placing the horse's severed head in Woltz's bed. The next day, Hagen receives a call from a ranting Woltz, who threatens to bring the law down on the Corleones' heads; Hagen responds nonchalantly and hangs up. Shortly afterward, Woltz realizes that with Vito's connections, he is unlikely to win in court and will likely be murdered himself. He thus gives in to the Corleones' wishes and casts Fontane in his new war film.

Hagen next sets up a meeting between Vito (who is accompanied by underboss Sonny and caporegimes Peter Clemenza and Sal Tessio) and drug lord Virgil Sollozzo, where Sollozzo requests Vito's help in financing and protecting his drug business. Sollozzo raises his glass in respect to Hagen for having discovered that he is under the protection of the Tattaglia Family, a rival to the Corleones. Vito ultimately rejects the deal, however.

That December, Sollozzo and his bodyguards kidnap Hagen. At an undisclosed location, Sollozzo informs Hagen that Don Corleone has been shot and killed, and tells Hagen to persuade Sonny, who is running the family in his father's absence, to go along with the original deal. Hagen promises to calm Sonny down, but warns Sollozzo about an inevitable reprisal from Luca Brasi, the Don's fanatically loyal bodyguard and hitman. Unbeknown to Hagen, Brasi has already been killed by Sollozzo and Bruno Tattaglia. The meeting is interrupted when Sollozzo receives word that Don Corleone survived the shooting, ruining Sollozzo's plans. While Sonny initially appeared receptive to the Sollozzo deal, Sollozo knew that he would not listen to any deal while his father was still alive.

While he loves all the Corleones, Hagen is especially fond of Sonny and considers him a true brother for helping him as a child, and blames himself when Sonny is murdered by the Barzini Family. Vito goes into semiretirement in 1954, and his youngest son and new heir apparent, Michael, becomes operating head of the family. On his father's advice, Michael removes Hagen as consigliere in favor of having his father take the position on an informal basis, restricting Hagen to handling the family's legal business in Nevada, Chicago, and Los Angeles. Michael and Vito explain that the Corleones might have a fight on their hands 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 New York's other dons to avenge Sonny and establish the Corleones' supremacy — an operation they have kept secret even from Hagen. In the book (and in a deleted scene from the film), Hagen asks why bodyguard Rocco Lampone has been secretly promoted to caporegime and why hitman Al Neri reports directly to Michael and not through Clemenza and Tessio. Neri and Lampone will play a key role in the assassination of the rival Dons that Michael is planning.

After Vito's death, Michael gives Hagen back his old post as consigliere. 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 executed for setting up Sonny's death seven years earlier.

When Michael's wife, Kay, finds out that Michael ordered Carlo's death, she flees to New Hampshire. Michael dispatches Hagen to New Hampshire to persuade Kay to come back.

The Godfather Part II[edit]

In The Godfather Part II, Hagen remains Michael's consigliere. After Michael's Nevada estate is raked with automatic gunfire, he realizes he cannot trust anyone in his inner circle and proclaims Hagen acting Don while he tries to find out who has betrayed him. Although his role was initially greatly reduced after the move west, Tom's promotion marks his renewed influence in the family and he goes on to be instrumental in both securing the loyalty of Senator Pat Geary and defending Michael during the Senate hearings on the Mafia. The fall of Fulgencio Batista's regime in Cuba forces Michael to temporarily abandon his dream of becoming a legitimate businessman and retake his place as the Don of the Corleone family.

Near the end of the film Hagen is unable to hide his unhappiness with Michael's increasing ruthlessness and paranoia, questioning the need to kill rival Hyman Roth. In response, Michael confronts Hagen about listening to competing job offers, and obliquely threatens to inform Hagen's wife about his mistress. Challenged point blank by Michael to confirm his loyalty to the Corleone Family, Hagen responds (in Sicilian) that he will remain loyal. He dutifully fulfills his role as not just a legal adviser, but in the consigliere's traditional role as dispassionate envoy for the Family. For instance, he gives Frank Pentangeli, who had betrayed Michael, the "idea" of committing suicide so that Pentangeli's family would continue to be taken care of after his death, while wistfully agreeing with Pentangeli that the Corleone Family are no longer "like the Roman Empire".

The Godfather Part III[edit]

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 before the ordination of his son, Andrew, a Roman Catholic priest.

The Godfather Returns[edit]

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 the 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 of his own, 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. Finally, Hagen personally murders Corleone rival Louie Russo, who is found to have conspired with the novel's antagonist, traitorous Corleone caporegime Nick Geraci, and is indirectly responsible for Fredo Corleone's betrayal of the family during the events of Godfather Part II.

The Godfather's Revenge[edit]

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, throwing his personal and professional life into disarray.

The novel also expands on how Hagen first 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.

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 that is sent to Sonny in the original novel following Luca Brasi's death, which was a package delivered to the Corleones in the form of a bulletproof vest wrapped around two dead fish.

Behind the scenes[edit]

The Hagen character was originally intended to have been featured in The Godfather Part III, but was written out because of a financial disagreement between Duvall and the film's producers. Coppola has stated that Part III was originally planned 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 three or four times his salary for the film.[3]


  • 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


Preceded by
Michael Corleone
Head of the Corleone crime family
The Godfather

ca. 1958–1959
Succeeded by
Michael Corleone
Preceded by
Genco Abbandando
Consigliere of the Corleone crime family
The Godfather

Succeeded by
Vito Corleone