Tom Hagen

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Tom Hagen
Tom Hagen.jpg
Robert Duvall portraying Tom Hagen
First appearance The Godfather
Last appearance The Godfather's Revenge
Created by Mario Puzo
Portrayed by Robert Duvall
Gender Male
Occupation Lawyer/Consigliere
Family Corleone family
Spouse(s) Theresa Hagen
Children Frank Hagen
Andrew Hagen
Gianna Hagen
Relatives Martin Hagen (father)
Bridget Hagen (mother)
unnamed sister
Vito Corleone (adopted father)
Carmela Corleone (adopted mother)
Sonny Corleone (adopted brother)
Fredo Corleone (adopted brother)
Michael Corleone (adopted brother)
Connie Corleone (adopted sister)

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.[1]

Character overview[edit]

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 goes to work in the Corleone "family 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 is 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; Michael claims Hagen is not a "war-time" consigliere. Hagen is thus restricted to handling the family's legitimate business.

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)[edit]

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 Vito Corleone. Hagen declines, and soon after, Woltz awakens in bed with his prized racing stallion's severed head planted under the covers, intimidating him into casting Fontane in the film.

Tom arranges a meeting between Vito and drug kingpin Virgil Sollozzo. Sollozzo wants Vito to help finance his narcotics business and provide legal protection and political influence. Tom 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 in the drug trade instead of gambling.

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

Tom meets with Sonny, Michael, and Corleone caporegimes Peter Clemenza and Salvatore Tessio advises that if Vito does Sonny should agree to Sollozzo's deal and that the other Mafia families would most likely support Sollozzo to avoid a long, bloody war. Two fish wrapped in Luca Brasi's bulletproof vest arrives at the Corleone compound revealing that Brasi has been murdered by Sollozzo. Sonny orders Clemenza to execute Vito's traitorous bodyguard Paulie Gatto.

After Michael stops a second assassination attempt on Vito by Sollozzo and calls the Corleone compound to warn Sonny. Tom at the hospital with private detectives that are licensed to carry firearms to protect Vito and stops Captain Mark McCluskey, a corrupt NYPD officer on Sollozzo's payroll, from taking Michael into police custody. Sonny then orders Bruno Tattaglia, son and underboss of Sollozzo's ally Philip Tattaglia, to be murdered. Sollozzo requests a meeting and proposes that Michael to be sent to broker a truce. Sonny, believing it is a trick, refuses and demands that the other Mafia families hand over Sollozzo to the Corleone family or else face war. Tom successfully convinces Sonny to wait because McCluskey has agreed to be Sollozzo's bodyguard and warns Sonny that killing McCluskey would violate a long-standing Mafia rule not to kill members of law enforcement and the backlash from rival Mafia families and law enforcement would be severe. Michael suggests they agree to Sollozzo's meeting but insists its a public place with people where he will murder Sollozzo and McCluskey, whom Michael successfully argues that is fair game because he is a corrupt cop mixed up in the drug trade and serving as Sollozzo's bodyguard. Sonny agrees and approves the hit.

Tom is unable to find the meeting location in advance and is cautious about putting Michael at risk but Sonny discovers the location from a policeman on the Corleone payroll in McCluskey's precinct. Sonny suggests they violently shoot up the car prior to the meeting but Tom says Sollozzo might not be in the car and Clemenza warns its too dangerous cause Sollozzo will be on alert for a violent reaction from the Corleones.

The killing of Sollozzo and McCluskey and the subsequent Mafia war, the first in a decade, between the Corleone family and the Five Families sparks a massive crackdown by law enforcement. Michael hides in Sicily and Vito returns home. Tom informs Vito that the police have cracked down on all Mafia operations but the Corleones have been able to put material in the newspapers about McCluskey's ties to Sollozzo and the drug trade. Sonny informs Vito that Fredo is being sent to Las Vegas to learn the casino business and when asked Tom informs him that it was Michael who killed Sollozzo and McCluskey and thus had to flee. Sonny tells Tom to discover Philip Tattaglia's hideout but Tom advises against further violence and that Vito can negotiate but Sonny disagrees and insults Tom's abilities as a wartime consigliere but immediately apologizes. At Sunday dinner Sonny tells Tom that the blacks in Harlem are enjoying the Corleone policy banks, driving new Cadillacs and paying 50% off on bets.

Michael's girlfriend Kay Adams arrives at the Corleone compound wanting contact Michael but Tom denies knowledge of Michael's whereabouts and refuses her letter. Tom advises she be patient and that Michael will eventually contact her.

Connie's husband, Carlo Rizzi, helps Corleone rival Emilio Barzini set a trap for Sonny when he has a girlfriend call their apartment and a fight ensues during which Carlo savagely beats up a pregnant Connie. Afterward she calls the Corleone compound crying, injured and asking Sonny for help. An enraged Sonny, having previously severely beaten up Carlo upon learning he abused Connie, speeds towards Connie's apartment in Hell's Kitchen ahead of his bodyguards. Tom orders Sonny's bodyguards to follow Sonny. At the Long Beach Causeway toll plaza, Barzini's men ambush Sonny and gun him down before Sonny's bodyguards are able to catch up.

Tom is devastated after Sonny's murder and tearfully informs Vito of his son's death. Tom and Vito view Sonny's body at the funeral home of Amerigo Bonasera, where Vito has Bonasera repair Sonny's body prior to his funeral. Vito orders no retaliation for Sonny's murder and has Tom organize a meeting with the other Mafia bosses to end the war. Vito makes peace with Philip Tattaglia and gives his word won't break the peace. After the meeting Tom asks Vito about the drug middlemen having clean records when he meets with the Tattaglia family but Vito corrects him saying Tattaglia was a pimp that never could've beaten Sonny and that it was Emilio Barzini who masterminded Sonny's murder.

Vito semi-retires in 1954 and Michael becomes operating head of the family. Michael removes Hagen as consigliere in favor of having Vito fill the position, restricting Tom 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". Tom accepts the decision and remains loyal but is deeply hurt. In truth, Michael and Vito have been secretly continuing Sonny's plan to wipe out the other New York Dons that will establish the Corleone family as the most powerful crime family in the country. Vito explains he advised Michael on removing Tom as consigliere and although Vito considered Tom a good consigliere and like Michael has all of Vito's confidence there are reasons why Tom must not have any part of the plan and Tom accepts the decision. In the novel (and in a deleted scene from the film), Tom 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. Vito reminds Michael that he warned him these details wouldn't escape Tom's attention.

Tom 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 Tom 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 Tom there to persuade Kay to return. Tom ultimately risks his own life by "hypothetically" revealing some family secrets to Kay so she can understand Michael's motives.

Sequel films[edit]

The Godfather Part II[edit]

In The Godfather Part II, Hagen remains Michael's lawyer after their move to Nevada, but his role in the family has been reduced. For instance, he is excluded from the negotiations with Hyman Roth to legitimize the Corleone family by going into business with Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista. 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. Hagen's promotion marks his renewed influence in the family and secures the formerly abrasive Senator Pat Geary's forced cooperation.

The fall of 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 be taken care of, while agreeing with Pentangeli that at one point the Corleone Family "was like the Roman Empire".

In a deleted subplot, Sonny's widow Sandra Corleone becomes Tom's mistress, a fact that Michael uses to blackmail Hagen into remaining loyal despite Sandra urging Hagen to abandon the Corleone family.

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 prior to his son, Andrew, being ordained a Roman Catholic priest.

Sequel novels[edit]

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 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), Hagen 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[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.

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.

Behind the scenes[edit]

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.[2]


  • 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


  1. ^ "The Godfather (1972)". Retrieved 2014-06-24. 
  2. ^ "Robert Duvall". 
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