Thomas Perry was an antagonist from the 1989 film Dead Poets Society and played by Kurtwood Smith, famously known for his portrayal of Clarence Boddicker.
Role in film
Mr. Perry was known for the majority of the film as a man who was forcing his son, Neil, to live the life he (Mr. Perry) wanted. With absolutley no reguard whatsoever for his sons desires or emotion, Mr. Perry callously browbeat Neil to become a doctor. Neil himself said his father never once asked him what he wanted, how he felt or what his thoughts on anything were. Mr. Perry figured that what he wanted for Neil was best and was all that mattered, therefore he never considered the damage he was doing. Speculation exists that Mr. Perry did not get the career he wanted and therefore wanted Neil to have it for him to ease his shame, even if that meant neglecting Neil's emotions.
When Neil auditioned for a play, which was the first thing he had ever done against his dad's wishes, Mr. Perry came down hard on him and forbid him to do the play. However, Neil did it anyway and got a standing ovation for his performance, making him happier than he had ever been in his life. It was sadly shortlived as Mr. Perry, in retaliation, pulled Neil out of his school and told him he was going to be enrolled in military school before attending Harvard. Neil attempted to stand up to his father and demonstrate how acting made him happy but Mr. Perry continuously shot him down and made it abundantly clear that Neil had utterly no choice at all regarding the direction in which his life would go. Not even Neil's mother sided with him. Once Neil saw that his happiness could not have meant less to his father he made yet another life choice for himself: He did the only thing that would keep his life from being controlled and ended it by shooting himself.
When Mr. Perry found Neil's body he broke down in devestation and held his sons body, crying and shouting in heartbreak and disbelief. This was proof that Mr. Perry loved Neil an incredible amount under all his cold-heartedness, but sadly never made that clear to the poor boy. Still, rather than accept any responsibility for Neil's death Mr. Perry assisted in getting John Keating fired. Mr. Keating was the teacher (and only adult) who had encouraged Neil to embrace his passion, which had been acting.
Mr. Perry's actions had ultimatley gotten his son killed yet Mr. Keating served as the perfect excuse for the former to again to save himself any incling of shame, thus avoiding redemption. However, despite getting Keating fired, his inspiration still lives on with his student and Neil's friend making Perry loses the battle in the long term.