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Mr. Corleone never asks a second favor once he's refused the first, understood?
~ Tom Hagen

Thomas "Tom" Hagen is a major character in The Godfather novel and the first and second films. He is the Corleone crime family's official lawyer, and mob boss Michael Corleone's adoptive brother, consigliere, and right-hand man.

He was portrayed in the first and second films by Robert Duvall, who also portrayed Lucky Ned Pepper in the 1969 film adaptation of True Grit, Bill Kilgore in Apocalypse Now, Fred Waterford in the film adaptation of The Handmaid's Tale, and Joseph Pulitzer in Newsies. Duvall also voiced Hagen in The Godfather video games.

Biography

Early life

Tom Hagen is the son of Martin and Bridget Hagen, and is of Irish-German ancestry. Martin was an alcoholic who abandoned Tom and his sister after Bridget died. After running away from the orphanage he was sent to, Tom, eleven at the time, became homeless on the streets of New York City. He was eventually discovered by Sonny Corleone, who brought him home and convinced his father Vito Corleone to take him in.

Vito did not formally adopt Hagen because he thought it would be disrespectful to the boy's parents, but he became every bit the father Hagen never had, and the Corleone siblings became his siblings. Hagen went to law school and became a lawyer. After graduating from law school, Hagen entered the family business.

When Vito's original consigliere Genco Abbandando became seriously ill, Vito made Hagen acting consigliere. Upon Abbandando's death, Vito named Hagen consigliere on a permanent basis, which was controversial due to his non-Italian heritage, leading to the Corleone Family's enemies derisively nicknaming them the "Irish gang".

The Godfather

Hagen is first seen at his adoptive sister Connie's wedding, helping Vito arrange the favors that the guests ask of him. On Vito's order, Hagen travels to Hollywood to persuade film producer Jack Woltz to cast Vito's godson, singer Johnny Fontane, in his latest film. Woltz, who hates Fontane for sleeping with one of his starlets, refuses, and insults Hagen and Vito with ethnic slurs, calling Hagen a "mick-kraut" and his bosses "guinea hoods". Upon learning who Hagen's boss is, Woltz behaves more civilly and invites Hagen to dinner at his estate, but still refuses to cast Fontane. The following morning, Woltz wakes up with the severed head of his prize race horse, Khartoum, in his bed; it is implied that Hagen had the horse killed on Vito's order. Understanding the threat, Woltz reluctantly gives Fontane the part.

After drug lord Virgil Sollozzo makes an attempt on Vito's life, he kidnaps Hagen and asks him to help Sonny see reason regarding the drug trade. Hagen says he will try, but not even Sonny would be able to call off Vito's fanatically loyal assassin Luca Brasi, not knowing that Luca was already dead.

Upon being released, Hagen goes to the Corleone compound, where he meets with Sonny, Vito's caporegimes Peter Clemenza and Salvatore Tessio, and Vito's youngest son Michael to figure out what to do next. Michael leaves for the hospital to visit his father, and saves Vito from Sollozzo's assassins. When NYPD Captain McClusky, who is on Sollozzo's payroll, arrives, he broke Michael's jaw. Hagen arrives with private detectives to guard Vito's room, and warns McClusky that if he tries to interfere he will have to go before a judge in the morning and show cause as to why the bodyguards should be removed.

At a family meeting following the hospital incident, Michael volunteers to kill Sollozzo and McClusky. Hagen reminds Michael of the family's long-standing rule not to kill police officers, but Michael argues that, since McClusky is working for Sollozzo, he is fair game. He also suggests that journalists on the Corleone family payroll would like a story of a corrupt police officer taken down by his Mafia allies, and that such a story would soften the public's perception of the Corleone family. Hagen and Sonny eventually agree to Michael's plan.

Michael kills Sollozzo and McCluskey in an Italian restaurant in the Bronx. He then flees to Sicily to avoid criminal charges and the retaliation of the other crime families. Michael's girlfriend Kay tries to reach him and brings a letter for him to the Corleone compound, but Hagen refuses to accept it. since doing so would imply that he had knowledge of where Michael was hiding.

During the war between the families, Hagen tried to counsel Sonny to make peace, Sonny refuses, however, saying that such a move would show weakness. Hhe then berates Hagen, saying that he is not as good a consigliere as Abbadando had been. Hagen appears hurt by that remark, and Sonny apologizes. When Sonny is murdered in an ambush shortly afterward, a devastated Hagen breaks the news to Vito that his son is dead. Vito orders that there be no investigation of or reprisal for Sonny's murder. He further asks Hagen to call the heads of the Five Families and arrange a meeting of the Commission. He accompanies Vito to the mortuary where Vito calls in a favor with the mortician Amerigo Bonasera, asking him to do all he could to make Sonny presentable to his mother at his funeral.

Tom and Michael Corleone.

After Vito retires, Michael takes over as head of the family and removes Hagen as consigliere in favor of his father, reasoning that Hagen is not a "wartime consigliere"; Hagen is wounded by Michael's decision, but accepts it. Following Vito's death, Michael reinstates Hagen as consigliere to help him enact his plan to eliminate the other Dons of New York and avenge Sonny's death.

The Godfather: Part II

Hagen remains on when Michael moves his family to Nevada, albeit in the reduced role that he dislikes. For instance, he was excluded from his negotiations with rival crime boss Hyman Roth.

After Roth's henchmen make an attempt on Michael's life at their Nevada compound, he appoints Hagen as acting head of the family. Michael explains that he had previously had to exclude him from his negotiations with Roth, but that Hagen is now the only person he trusts completely; he that Hagen does not know certain things about the family's operations, and therefore has no means or motive to move against him. Hagen is instrumental in both securing the friendship of powerful Senator Pat Geary - by getting him involved in a murder and promising to protect him - and representing Michael during Senate hearings on the Mafia orchestrated by Roth.

Following the hearing, he convinces traitorous Corleone family caporegime Frank Pentangeli to commit suicide in return for providing for his family, protecting Michael and the Family from his testimony forever. When Pentangeli says that the Corleone family is like the Roman Empire, Hagen remarks wistfully, "It was."

Despite his loyalty, Hagen begins to question Michael's leadership, particularly his plan to assassinate Roth, which he believes is too dangerous. When Michael makes a veiled threat to tell Hagen's wife about his mistress, however, Hagen drops his objections, and the assassination goes forward as planned.

The Godfather: Part III

The third and final film in the Godfather saga, The Godfather: Part III, set in 1979, explains that Hagen had died a few years earlier. His son, Andrew, is ordained to the priesthood, and is assigned to the Vatican on Michael's recommendation. While talking with Andrew, Michael remembers Hagen fondly as a great lawyer.

Trivia

  • Tom Hagen was originally going to return for The Godfather: Part III, and the central plot was going to be a split between Tom and Michael. The character was killed off when the film's producers refused to accommodate Duvall's salary demands.
  • The supplemental materials included on The Godfather Part III DVD stated that Hagen died at some point during the 1970s.
  • In Mark Winegardner's continuation novel The Godfather Returns, Hagen makes a failed run for a Congressional seat, and personally murders Michael's rival mob boss Louie Russo,
  • In the sequel novel The Godfather's Revenge, Hagen is murdered in 1964 by traitorous Corleone henchman Nick Geraci, who ties him up in a car that he sinks into a swamp. Hagen's body is never found, but Geraci sends Michael a dead baby alligator with a wallet in his mouth, a message that Tom Hagen now "sleeps with the alligators"; this is a reference to Luca Brasi's death in the original novel, after which his killers send the Corleone family a dead fish in a newspaper, a sign that Brasi "sleeps with the fishes". The Godfather's Revenge also portrays Hagen as having saved Sonny's life from a murderous pimp when they were children, earning Sonny's lifelong respect and friendship.
    • Hagen's actions and eventual fate, as portrayed in Winegardner's novels, are considered non-canonical by Paramount Studios, the producers of the film series, as they had not officially sanctioned the novels.

External Links

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           The Godfather Logo.png Villains

The Commision
Vito Corleone | Philip Tattaglia | Emilio Barzini | Carmine Cuneo | Victor Stracci | Vincent Forlenza | Michael Corleone

Corleone Family
Vito Corleone | Sonny Corleone | Fredo Corleone | Michael Corleone | Connie Corleone | Vincent Corleone | Luca Brasi | Peter Clemenza | Salvatore Tessio | Tom Hagen | Al Neri | Rocco Lampone | Paulie Gatto | Willie Cicci | Frank Pentangeli | Joey Zasa | Aldo Trapani | Dominic Trapani

Tattaglia Family
Philip Tattaglia | Bruno Tattaglia | Virgil Sollozzo | Mark McCluskey | Don Altobello

Barzini Family
Emilio Barzini | Emilio Barzini Jr. | Fabrizio

Others
Anthony Squigliaro | Carlo Rizzi | Moe Greene | Nick Geraci | Hyman Roth | Francesco Ciccio | Don Fanucci | Jack Woltz | Joe Galtosino | Johnny Ola | Licio Lucchesi | Louie Russo | Archbishop Gilday | Frederick Keinszig | Mosca | Mosca of Montelepre | Strollo | Spara | Rosato Brothers | Pat Geary | Jerry Wagner | Kevin Moonan | Giuseppe Mariposa | Questadt

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