Bad Lieutenant? The Storied History of the’Chief Counselor’ on film


As you may have read, here in the UK we’ve had an entertaining(?)  few months following the antics of PM Boris Johnson’s chief advisor/Hand of the King Dominic Cummings on his various peregrinations around England. So it seems an appropriate time to take a look at the role of the #2 guy in the movies. Or The Power Behind The Throne in some cases.


Some are good guys…but most…not so much.


Here’s a few:


Chuck Heston nails it as Cardinal Richelieu in The Three Musketeers (1973)


Brad Dourif as Grima Wormtongue in LOTR: The Two Towers (2002)

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers-Grima's control over Theoden


Frank Langella as White House Chief of Staff Bob Alexander in Dave (1993)

Dave (1993) Official Trailer - Kevin Kline, Sigourney Weaver Comedy HD


John Hurt as Lord Percival Graves in King Ralph (1991)

King Ralph - "Come back here, you little strumpet!"


Peter Wyngarde as Klytus in Flash Gordon (1980)

Flash Gordon (1980) - Klytus death scene


Dr Strangelove (Peter Sellers) and Walter Matthau as Professor Groeteschele in the same year’s similarly themed Fail Safe (1964). Both see an upside to nuclear destruction.

Dr. Strangelove (8/8) Movie CLIP - Living Underground (1964) HD

FAIL-SAFE: The First Strike Argument


Robert Wagner/Rob Lowe as #2 in the Austin Powers movies:

2-2 Coffeeshop-chain : Austin Power2 - starbucks

Dr. Evil - The Alan Parsons Project


Charles Dance (some extensive form as a scheming second-in-command: Twyin in GoT, Secret State, The Crown etc) in Ali G Indahouse (2002) as Deputy Prime Minister David Carlton.

Charles Dance at Ali G.


See also Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) in Star Wars (who was Chancellor before Galactic Emperor), Iago (Othello), Jürgen Prochnow as Judge Griffin in 1995’s lousy Judge Dredd, Mark Strong as Conroy in The Young Victoria etc. Most, but not all (namely Richelieu, The Vizier in Year One, Associate Bob in Demolition Man) experience some kind of comeuppance.


And of course Tom Hagen (Robert Duvall) in the first two Godfather pictures.


Tom Hagen Meets Woltz - The Godfather

Who else?

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Stephen Arnell

Culture Comment Content Provider. Portrait courtesy of artist Darren Coffield. 'Non satis me tempo'