12 Angry Men Characters

Saturday, April 30 by Jason Cuthbert

The 1957 Academy Award-nominated movie "12 Angry Men" has 12 central characters that, as jurors, must determine if an 18 year-old Latino boy killed his father. It is a life or death decision – this teenager is facing the death penalty. Of all the characters in "12 Angry Men" that must face their individual bias' to find truth and justice – these are the most compelling.

  1. Juror #1 Martin Balsam, who you may remember in his role as Detective Arbocast in Alfred Hitchcock's "Psycho", is Juror #1, the foreman of the jury responsible for leading these 12 angry men into a verdict. He has a seemingly unbiased approach to the case, with a preoccupation with his job and nothing more. He is well mannered, organized, and overwhelmingly calm, until a moment arises with an irate juror that tests his patience.
  2. Juror #3 This abrasive jury member, played by Jack Warden, surely puts the "angry" in the "12 Angry Men" title. He becomes so self-absorbed with his personal opinion that he begins to alienate himself from the group with his countless emotional explosions. Lee J. Cobb's fiery performance never seems over-the-top; playing a father who's strained relationship with his own son seems to be influencing his "guilty" vote.
  3. Juror #5 Jack Klugman, Oscar from television's "The Odd Couple", comes across initially quiet and passive until his temper is stirred. He was raised in a similar poverty-stricken neighborhood as the young accused boy. When the stereotype of kids from slums being automatic criminals rears it's ugly head in "12 Angry Men", Jury #5 rises to the occasion to squash this misperception. 
  4. Juror #7 As serious of a situation as murder is, "12 Angry Men" still finds some comic relief in the form of Juror #7. His desire to go see a New York Yankees baseball game seems to take precedence over his jury duty. He has a wide array of wise cracks and jokes for anyone who seems to be slowing down the verdict.
  5. Juror #8 Henry Fonda was not only the producer of "12 Angry Men", but he also played Jury #8, the most levelheaded protagonist in this story. He is the only juror who initially votes "not guilty", and he single-handed spearheads the further investigation of the evidence that many jurors would rather skim over. Juror #8 has the most moral conscience in the room, and takes the life of the accused just as seriously as the life of his father that he is blamed for killing.  
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