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William "Wild Bill" Wharton is the main antagonist in the novel The Green Mile by Stephen King and its film adaptation. He is a wild-acting, dangerous multiple murderer who is determined to make as much trouble as he can before he is executed.

He was portrayed by Sam Rockwell



He committed several misdemeanors as a child, ranging from petty theft to trespassing and small-scale arson.

The Green Mile

He is brought into the prison early in the book. At first, he appears to be in a catatonic state, but he was only acting. As soon as he enters the prison, he goes berserk and attacks the guards. Paul Edgecombe, one of the two protagonists, pulls his gun out but cannot shoot Wild Bill because of his urinary tract infection - Wild Bill had kneed him in the crotch, which was made excrutiatingly painful due to the infection. Percy Wetmore, another antagonist, takes out his nightstick, but is presumably paralyzed in fear and stands by watching Wild Bill attack the other guards. Wild Bill is finally subdued when Brutus "Brutal" Howell, one of the other guards, takes Percy's nightstick and hits Wild Bill on the head with it. Wild Bill soon causes lots of trouble for the guards as well as the prisoners. He is racially prejudiced against John Coffey and frequently calls him a "nigger".


Wild Bill holding Percy Wetmore up against his cell.

After Coffey refuses to share his corn bread with Wild Bill, he starts to cause trouble by urinating on a guard, then jokingly offers to defecate on them later. As punishment for this, the guards blast Wild Bill with a fire hose, put him in a straitjacket and lock him in the padded room. During this transaction, he becomes angered at being called "Wild Bill" and lectures the guards about the difference between the historical "Wild Bill" Hickok and Billy the Kid (his preferred epithet). He is put in the padded room again after spitting a moon pie (which he had purchased from a janitor for a nickel; how he got the nickel is unknown) all over another guard.

Later, Percy Wetmore startles Eduard Delacroix, who slips and falls. He says that he was "just playin'" before Wild Bill stretches his arm out of his cell and grabs Percy. He holds Percy by the neck and whispers some suggestive comments in his ear before releasing him, saying that he too was "just playin'". These actions frighten Percy so badly that he begins to cry and wets himself, much to Wild Bill's amusement. He seems to be afraid of Wild Bill after this, as before he is locked in a padded cell, he begs the other guards to not put him in Wild Bill's cell.

Before John Coffey, the other protagonist who heals people by sucking the diseases/ailments out of them and regurgitating them, is taken to the warden's house to heal the warden's cancerous wife, Wild Bill grabs John's arm. This contact allows John to see inside Wild Bill's heart and it reveals that Wild Bill raped and murdered two young girls, the crime that John Coffey was blamed for. To keep Wild Bill from causing more trouble, the guards give him a drugged RC Cola that knocks him out while they smuggle John Coffey out of the prison. When John Coffey is returned to prison, he regurgitates the disease into Percy Wetmore, who then shoots Wild Bill to death before going into a catatonic state. When asked why he did this, John said that "[He] punished them bad men. [He] punished them both."


  • Judging by his crimes, it's possible that Wharton shows disregards towards women, as one of the three people he killed in a robbery was a pregnant woman, and he raped and killed two little girls before his arrest.
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