Speed-the-Plow Characters
by David Mamet

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Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

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Bobby Gould

Bobby Gould, the number two man in a Hollywood production office. At almost forty years of age, he is still immature, guided by the “street smarts” learned in his youth. Gould has earned his position by honoring the principle that a film is good only if it makes money. By following this standard, he has been rewarded with an office redolent of success. Gould is concerned primarily with his own self-image, his maleness, and the appearance of success. He dresses expensively and uses special, irreverent, and vulgar insiders’ language with ease and fluidity. For a brief period, because he is starving for love and affection, he tries to impress a good-looking girl, his temporary secretary, Karen. He allows himself to pretend that scruples were always important to him. He almost produces an “art for art’s sake” film, seemingly abandoning Hollywood’s “money rules” credo. His lack of faith in his ability to sustain a caring relationship proves justified when Karen is found to have been interested in him only for what he could do for her career. A misogynist from the start, Gould has no qualms or thoughts about what will happen to her when he dumps her.

Charlie Fox

Charlie Fox, who is about Gould’s age and is an old pal of his. Fox is a hanger-on in the film industry, continually flattering all those in a position to help him while waiting for his big break to come along, which occurs when a hot property (film star or director) agrees to sign on his team, thereby making him a producer. Using friendship as motivation, he presents his new deal to his old buddy, knowing that his friend will remain faithful to him. Fox uses language riddled with clichés. He has no pretensions to intelligence, charm, or wit, and he seems proud of his coarseness. He will stop at nothing and let nothing get in the way of his success, which is defined by Hollywood’s rules. He will even use the street behavior learned as a child, physically bullying others to get his way. Fox probably lacks a family, as indicated by his own sense of mistrust, impotence, and misogyny. Suspecting that everyone is, like himself, motivated by self-interest, Fox will use and abuse, all the time pretending long-term affection and trust for those who have been more monetarily successful than he.


Karen, a good-looking, seemingly sweet, temporary secretary in her twenties who has the makings of an opportunist. While working for Gould, Karen sees a chance to make a difference in the type of film produced while furthering her career. Using earnestness as a cover, she is unfortunately honest enough to admit that she had sex with her boss only to get ahead; she did not care for him as a person. Although she pretends a certain amount of naïveté, she nevertheless relies on the stereotype that a man will take care of her, ironically proving herself to be actually naïve as well as stupid, manipulative, plotting, power-hungry, and whorish.


(Drama for Students)

Charlie Fox
Fox is a movie producer who is about forty years of age. As his surname suggests, Fox is a sly, wily character who is above nothing if it means career advancement. He is a man looking for his big break; when he finds it in the form of a possible deal with film star Doug Brown, he fights viciously to keep it. Fox brings the deal to Bobby Gould, a long time friend and business associate. Charlie has a one-day option on the Brown picture and urges Gould to act upon it. When the executive agrees to take the project to his boss, Fox is pleased and believes his fortune is made when Gould assures him a co-producer credit.

As a competitive aside, Fox bets Gould that he cannot get his temporary secretary, Karen, to sleep with him. Fox is chagrined the next day, when Gould tells him that he has decided to produce an adaptation of a book that Karen liked instead of the Brown picture. To ensure his project gets made, Fox literally beats up Gould and verbally assaults him, arguing that Karen was using him. Gould realizes the...

(The entire section is 1,248 words.)