Eddie Mannix is a fixer for the 1950's Hollywood studio Capitol Pictures. His daily routine keeps big-budgeted films as well as actors' reputations from crumbling, so having a moment to spare is out of the question.
- Adaptational Name Change: Subtly done, but people familiar with the story of the real Eddie Mannix will know that his first name was actually "Edgar". A shot in of his office door reveals this Eddie's first name to be "Edward".
- Badass Baritone: As is standard for Josh Brolin.
- Blatant Lies: Tells Hobie that Laurentz dropped by to tell him that he was doing great in Merrily We Dance while in reality Laurentz stormed into Eddie's office and demanded Hobie be taken off the project. A large part of his career revolves around saying this kind of stuff.
- Consummate Professional: He is, for the most part, a neutral character who tries to keep everything and everyone in order, like a grand engineer in a huge machine where every cog can malfunction at any time, as a representative of his firm's interests. Which includes covering up dirt of any sort (most of that which appears in the movie isn't too severe) in order to maintain the lie that is the stars living their lives according to the values of the society of the time.
- Determinator: Despite all the dirty dealing he does to keep the studio afloat, taking a toll on his conscience and his family, Mannix still manages to get through the day and get everyone in the studio back on track, even if it means resorting to slapping them in the most extreme cases. Still, he's so worn out from his work that he considers leaving the business entirely to get a job in aviation. However, his desire to help and maintain the people he's been working with for years and the value he sees in his work convince him to stay once he's talked it over in the Confessional.
- The Fixer: Just as the real Eddie Mannix was described, Eddie basically keeps everything from falling apart. There's a reason almost everyone onscreen addresses him with appropriate respect.
- Get a Hold of Yourself, Man!: A fairly common way for him to shake his subjects back into an appropriate mindset.
- Grey and Gray Morality: Eddie loves his family despite being a usually absentee husband and father, and is very controlling over his actors, often resorting to brief physical abuse to keep them in line and keep his enterprises from falling apart. That being said, he owns up to his sins during frequent confession and seems to believe that his films have genuine artistic merit. Not to mention that some of the stars he has to wrangle are often engaging in behavior that ranges from morally dubious, to outright criminal, often out of their own stupidity or obliviousness.
- Historical Beauty Update: The real Eddie Mannix was balding, short and a bit paunchy. Here he's played by Josh Brolin who is...well, Josh Brolin.
- Historical-Domain Character
- Married to the Job: He is overworked and barely home to see his family.
- Only Sane Man: Hence why he is the fixer of problems that he would recognize and knows how to find a solution to them. He is what inhabitants of Hollywood (specifically Capitol Pictures) look up to to make sure the movies' and actors' reputations, and by extension their sponsors', do not shatter.
- Pet the Dog: Very forward and blunt, but he has to be to manage his time appropriately and keep Hollywood from destroying itself. He genuinely cares for his family, and believes his films hold value.
- Would Hit a Girl: As evidenced by his first scene, he treats all his actors the same while dealing with their insubordination, and slaps actress Gloria DeLamour in the same way he later strikes Baird Whitlock.
Hobie Doyle is an actor at Capitol Pictures and one of Mannix's clients. Hobie typically specializes in cowboy movies, but struggles when cast as one of the leads in director Laurence Laurentz's newest drama Merrily We Dance.
- Adorkable: Off the horse's back, Hobie acts primarily reserved, especially on the set of Merrily We Dance, in which he's horribly miscast.
- Bad "Bad Acting": His performance in Merrily We Dance is cringe-inducingly bad. He's pretty upfront about the fact that he's a singer and a performer first and foremost, and that actually speaking during his films isn't really part of his wheelhouse.
- Big Damn Heroes: Is responsible for tracking down Baird's location after seeing Gurney with the ransom suitcase. Of course, the subsequent rescue of Whitlock is underwhelming in that all he does is show up and tell him to get in the car.
- Birds of a Feather: He and Carlotta are both bubbly and kindhearted folks who are totally out of place in Hollywood. Naturally, they get along swimmingly.
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Proves himself to be surprisingly capable at tracking down the Communist cell that formed within the studio.
- Deuteragonist: He initially seems to be a mere comic-relief character, but he ends up playing a pivotal role in finding the kidnappers (he gives Eddie Mannix a tip which helps him track down the kidnappers, and he himself follows Burt Gurney to the kidnapper's hideout and "rescues" Baird — it's pure luck that he sees the ransom briefcase, but he has enough initiative to seize the opportunity in front of him).
- Good Is Not Dumb: While he may come off as a little simple, he's far smarter than he appears, and is one of the more intelligent characters in the entire film.
- False Teeth Tomfoolery: Hobie wears dentures, having lost all his teeth in a stunt.
- Hidden Depths: He can actually sing and points out to Eddie that the extras are more than likely the culprits behind Baird's kidnapping, as the cast on a film set are on first-name terms with almost the entire crew, but extras come and go and no-one notices.
- Nice Guy: Friendly and humble to almost everyone. Compared to his mostly vapid and jaded colleagues, he really stands out.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: Comparable to an Expy of Roy Rogers.
- No Stunt Double: His first scene involves him doing a lot of stuntwork involving his horse and hanging from trees himself. This was not uncommon in this era of film.
- Only Sane Man: The only acquaintance of Mannix who does not have any insecurities, ignorance or shadiness of sort unlike the other celebrities for Capitol Pictures.
- Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: His thick southern drawl cannot be masked when he's required to put on an English accent for Merrily We Dance.
- Playing Against Type: In-universe, Hobie is accustomed to starring in cowboy pictures. He's out of place on the set of Merrily We Dance to the comical extreme.
- Smarter Than You Look: Comes off as an idiot and a hick in most of his early scenes, but the later parts of the film reveal him to be surprisingly sharp. It's not that he's talentless, he's just not at all the right actor for the lead role in a high-class drama.
- Southern Gentleman: He is polite and charming to a fault.
Baird Whitlock is a big name actor playing the lead in the upcoming Capitol Pictures epic, Hail, Caesar! When he's kidnapped before production of the movie has been completed, however, he finds himself in the hands of communists.
- Ambiguously Gay: It's not clear if he would sleep with a man if it wasn't for the below-mentioned couch which would guarantee him a lot of women.
- Casting Couch: Slept with Laurence Laurentz in the past to land a role in one of his films.
- The Ditz: He easily buys that he's been kidnapped by a "study group", converts easily to Communism by equating it to that time he was tricked into shaving Danny Kaye's back, and cheerfully regurgitates their views on the studio system without realizing he's imperiling his own career (and driving Eddie Mannix into a rage).
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: Parodies both Kirk Douglas and Charlton Heston. While Hail, Caesar! is a clear parody of Ben-Hur (which Heston starred in), his "prima donna leading man" image takes just as many cues from Douglas, the star of Spartacus.
- Stockholm Syndrome: Begins to very easily sympathize with the communists after his kidnapping. Played with, since they do treat him very well and the only threat against his person is his little secret that they would only release if he named them to the authorities or if he left before they received the ransom money. Which makes it entirely impersonal and makes him come across as merely a fool who can be easily converted into any ideology if he spends enough time being talked into it, all while serenely eating finger-sandwiches and drinking tea, rather than relating with it on a completely psychological and personal level.
Burt Gurney is another Capitol Pictures actor/dancer slated to star in an upcoming navy musical.
- Ambiguously Gay: His homoerotic dance routine would qualify him as this or a very flamboyant Camp Straight. Ed also mentions in the ending of the film the Burt was sexually involved with Laurentz as well.
- Bourgeois Bohemian: Owns an impressive Malibu mansion where his fellow communists hold their meetings, sip martinis, eat tea sandwiches, and smoke expensive tobacco.
- Camp Gay: He is implied to be this, or he's at least a very flamboyant Camp Straight.
- Canine Companion: His faithful dog, Engels (named for Communist philosopher Friedrich Engels). Used as a plot point when while he's boarding a Soviet submarine, Engels jumps from the boat after him, prompting him to drop the briefcase full of money.
- Grey and Gray Morality: He and the rest of the communists are somewhat hypocritical kidnappers and blackmailers, but raise good points about the exploitative nature of Hollywood and treat Baird as almost an equal while he's "captive".
- Harmless Villain: Well he is a leading member of a communist kidnapper's party who seriously believe that they will make a better world by demanding ransom from the Capitol Studio. And all that without using or even threatening to use any violence against their hostage, probably out of a lack of a desire to hurt.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: Clearly an Expy of Gene Kelly, as The Other Wiki even calls him a Gene Kelly-type actor.
- Not-So-Small Role: Channing Tatum pops up an hour in as a character who has no connection to the rest of the cast, performing a random musical number for Rule of Cool. His character Burt Gurney turns out to be a Soviet mole, and it's his house Baird Whitlock is locked up in.
- Walking Spoiler: He has one scene before it's revealed he's a communist.
DeeAnna Moran is another Capitol Pictures actress who's slated to star in an upcoming aquatic film, Neptune's Daughter. During filming, she gets pregnant out of wedlock and Eddie has to deal with spinning the affair.
- Deliberate Values Dissonance: Her arc deals with Eddie looking to cover her out-of-wedlock pregnancy.
- Fourth Date Marriage: Meets Joseph Silverman, goes on one date with him, and marries him by the end of the night.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: Her status as an actress is based on Esther Williams, while the scheme dealing with her having to adopt her own child is based on Loretta Young having to do the same thing.
- Single Woman Seeks Good Man: Married twice in studio-arranged marriages (including once to a not-so-small member of the Mafia) and just wants to settle down with a nice guy. By the end of the movie, she's married to Joseph Silverman.
- Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Beautiful DeeAnna Moran (did we mention she's played by Scarlett Johansson?) marries the significantly less attractive Joseph Silverman (played by Jonah Hill).
Carlotta Valdez is yet another Capitol Pictures actress who specializes in dance pictures. The studio sets her up on a fake date with Hobie Doyle in order to distract the Thacker twins with an exclusive scoop and keep reporters' eyes off the more substantial celebrity scandals unfolding.
- The Beard: She was supposed to be this to Doyle in order to distract the Thacker twins. Subverted as the two hit it off surprisingly well.
- Birds of a Feather: She and Hobie are both bubbly and kindhearted folks who are totally out of place in Hollywood. Naturally, they get along swimmingly.
- Nice Girl: Much less jaded and seedy than fellow genre star DeeAnna Moran — in this respect, she's something of a Distaff Counterpart to Hobie Doyle. Like Doyle, however, she seems out of her depth in Hollywood.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: She's one long riff on Carmen Miranda.
- Only Sane Woman: Sharing this with Hobie, in comparison to the more seedy and insecure celebs in the movies.
- Shout-Out: Her name references Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo.
- Spicy Latina: Part of her studio gimmick; in real life her actual personality is bubbly and outgoing, but not remotely hot-tempered or any of the other stereotypical traits linked with this trope.
- Token Minority: Carlotta is a Latina and the only significant non-white character in the film.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: She and Doyle genuinely hit it off at the premiere of Lazy Ol' Moon, but Hobie has to run out on their dinner date to chase down Communists, and Valdez never reappears in the film after that point.
Laurence Laurentz is a prestigious Capitol Pictures director known for his classy dramas, such as his upcoming Merrily We Dance.
- Alliterative Name: Laurence Laurentz.
- Camp Gay: Lists Baird, and possibly also Gurney among his former sexual partners.
- Casting Couch: He is classic case of a homosexual director who runs part of the studio as his personal fiefdom and expects some special favors to help any aspiring actors to move up in the showbiz ladder.
- First-Name Basis: He repeatedly corrects Hobie Doyle as he keeps calling him "Mr. Laurence". When Hobie finally gets it right, Laurence changes his mind and says to just call him "Laurence", which only confuses Hobie further.
- Repetitive Name: Laurence Laurentz has quite a repetitive name.
Joseph Silverman is a surety agent who works for Capitol Pictures.
- Advertised Extra: Jonah Hill gets prominent billing and is featured in a majority of posters and trailers, but is only ever featured in one scene. Joseph does, however, get an important role off-screen when he marries DeeAnna Moran and ties up her arc.
- Fourth Date Marriage: Goes out on one date with DeeAnna Moran the night after he meets her, and the two are married before morning.
- Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Joseph is a heavier-set guy who managed to land a character played by Scarlett Johansson by the film's end.
- Undying Loyalty: Once served six months in prison because Capitol Pictures needed a fall guy, and he's still working under them without question.
- Walking Spoiler: His only spoiler-free scene is his only scene altogether, as he marries DeeAnna Moran offscreen to satisfy her arc.
Thora and Thessaly Thacker are a pair of twin Hollywood reporters constantly dangling gossip stories about Eddie Mannix's clients over his head.
- Alliterative Name: Thora and Thessaly Thacker.
- Always Identical Twins: Thora and Thessaly are identical twins, running rival gossip columns to each other.
- Berserk Button: Thora hates being called a gossip columnist and insists what she does is serious journalism. Thessaly seems to be more honest about her work.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: Their ongoing gossip feud mimics the real-life feud between Hedda Hopper and Louella Parsons.
- Sibling Rivalry: The two of them are in a constant feud over who can score the juiciest scoop for their respective columns.