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Characters / The Grand Budapest Hotel

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Characters appearing in The Grand Budapest Hotel.

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    The Author 

The Author
"It's all right. The incidents that follow were described to me exactly as I present them here, and in a wholly unexpected way."

Played by: Tom Wilkinson (older), Jude Law (younger)

"It is an extremely common mistake. People think the writer's imagination is always at work, that he's constantly inventing an endless supply of incidents and episodes; that he simply dreams up his stories out of thin air. In point of fact, the opposite is true. Once the public knows you're a writer, they bring the characters and events to you. And as long as you maintain your ability to look, and to carefully listen, these stories will continue to... [Gets interrupted by his grandson] Uh, will continue to seek you out, uh, over your lifetime. To him, who has often told the tales of others, many tales will be told."

A deceased writer who spent his youth in the 1960s at the Grand Budapest Hotel in Zubrowka and met the old Zero Moustafa, who told him the story of his life in the hotel, thus inspiring him to write a novel based on said accounts.

  • Audience Surrogate: Much like the viewers, he's also the recipient of a story.
  • Distinguished Gentleman's Pipe: In the scenes showing him as a client of the Grand Budapest Hotel in the 1960s, he is constantly seen with a pipe, and has gentlemanly manners.
  • The Narrator: He guides the audience about his time in the Grand Budapest, right until he lets Mr. Moustafa tell the story of the glorious days of Gustave H.
  • No Name Given: His grave only has his name typed as "The Author" and the credits have him as such.
  • The Watson: His 1960s self asking questions to the old Zero Moustafa is what unfolds the plot.

Grand Budapest Hotel Staff

    M. Gustave H. 

Monsieur Gustave H.
"You see, there are still faint glimmers of civilization left in this barbaric slaughterhouse that was once known as humanity. Indeed that's what we provide in our own modest, humble, insignificant... oh, fuck it."

Played by: Ralph Fiennes

"Take your hands off my lobby boy!"

The concierge of the Grand Budapest Hotel between the early '30s and '40s. He tutored Zero and cares very much about his hotel. Also, he likes to spend "lovely" times with elder female guests. One of his guests, Madame D., unexpectedly dies and Gustave is the main suspect, due to the fact that she left him the "Boy with Apple", an expensive painting.

  • Agent Peacock: Gustave is more than a little bit flouncing and metrosexual, but he's also a courageous and daring man who's more than capable of beating up hardened prisoners so hard that he instantly gains their respect. Nonetheless, he's rather flattered when said prisoners reveal that they think of him as a "straight fellow".
  • Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: In the middle of heartwarming conversation about how much he loves Madame D. he gets distracted by how horrible Madame D.'s nail paint is. Then, while visiting her coffin at her house, he pays attention at how much her nails are spotless.
  • Born in the Wrong Century: It's noted at several points that he's a man out of time. Born into an era and time that has no use for his particular skills and personality.
  • Classical Anti-Hero: Rude, obnoxious and snobbish, but still a good guy at heart and willing to do the right thing in the end.
  • Comically Missing the Point: A monk from Gabelmeister's Peak tells to Gustave to confess. Gustave begins confessing but the monk actually said to go to the confessional where Serge X. is hiding.
  • Likes Older Women: Blonde ones to be exact. Every time an elder woman gets a room, there he goes to have some fun.
  • The Mentor: Everything Zero learned, he did it from M. Gustave. He teaches him how to be a perfect lobby boy and the neatest manners.
  • Neat Freak: M. Gustave is tremendously obsessed with neatness and nice smell. After spending some time at the Check-point 19 prison all he thinks about is his perfume and is disappointed with Zero for not bringing one. Luckily, M. Ivan brings him his favorite before he hops on a train.
  • Real Men Wear Pink: He is described by Zero as being "the most liberally perfumed man [he] had ever encountered."
  • Rhymes on a Dime: Gustave is a romantic man obsessed with literature. Every night, he would recite a poem to the hotel staff before dinner as part of his speech and may randomly recite in the most unexpected moments.
  • Sad Clown: He's a very outgoing and lively individual, especially amongst the hotel's guests, but he eats dinner alone in his room. In his underpants.
  • Sophisticated as Hell: Just look at the quote below his picture.


Zero Moustafa
"When the destiny of a great fortune is at stake, men's greed spreads like a poison in the bloodstream."

Played by: Tony Revolori (young), F. Murray Abraham (old)

Mr. Gustave H.: Why do you want to be a lobby boy?
Zero: Well, who wouldn't—at the Grand Budapest, sir. It's an institution.

The elderly owner of the Grand Budapest Hotel. In his youth, he escaped from a cruel war that destroyed his village in his home country and entered Zubrowka as a refugee. There, he started to work at the Grand Budapest as a lobby boy tutored by the hotel concierge M. Gustave H. As an old man, he tells the adventurous story of his life through the mysterious death of Madame Desgoffe-und-Taxis, the robbery of the painting "Boy with Apple", his relationship with mentor figure Gustave H. and his infatuation over Agatha the Mendl's baker.

  • Ambiguously Brown: Zero's country of origin is Middle-Eastern, and he is played by actors of Guatemalan (Revolori) and Syrian-Italian (Abraham) heritage.
  • Beard of Sorrow: As an elderly man, he is very melancholic especially after the deaths of Agatha and his son and much less energetic than in his youthful days.
  • Beware of the Nice Ones: Zero convinced M. Gustave to steal the painting and pushed Jopling over a cliff to save Gustave.
  • Hyper-Competent Sidekick: Becomes one very rapidly, and although M. Gustave is no idiot he comes to rely enormously on Zero over the course of the film.
  • Meaningful Name: When interviewed by M. Gustave, he tells what studies or job experiences he had before, only for the concierge to conclude with "zero" as a response for every question. Then, when inquired about his family, his own laconic reply is "zero".
  • The Narrator: The film zigzags between the Author and the old Zero as narrators of the adventures in the Grand Budapest. Zero does narrate the years spanning between 1932 and the '60s.
  • The Quiet One: He barely spoke as a youth, which adds more weight to how he becomes a rather eloquent and sociable storyteller in his later years.
  • Qurac: He cames from the (fictional) Middle-Eastern country of Aq Salim al-Jabat.
  • War Refugees: He's a refugee who fled his war-torn country.
  • Watching Troy Burn: He arrived at Zubrowka as a refugee as his village was devastated by war, losing everything.


Deputy Vilmos Kovacs

Played by: Jeff Goldblum

A lawyer representing the mysterious owner of the Grand Budapest Hotel back in 1932. Also happens to represent the Desgoffe-und-Taxis inheritance case after Madame D.'s death.

  • Amoral Attorney: Averted completely. Kovacs is an honest lawyer who wants the case to be resolved in the cleanest way and does not accept Dmitri's dirty proposals. And he gets killed for it.
  • Fingore: Kovacs is dragged by Jopling to the Kunstmuseum and the assassin quickly closes the door chopping off his right hand's fingers before killing him.
  • Token Good Teammate: He's taken over the Desgoffe-und-Taxi's inheritance case, but willingly provides information to Zero about Jopling and Serge X. It's another reason he gets killed.


Desgoffe und Taxis Family and Associates

    Madame D. 

Madame Celine Villeneuve Desgoffe und Taxis

Played by: Tilda Swinton

A multimillionaire elderly woman and one of the many guests and lovers to M. Gustave in the Grand Budapest Hotel. She suddenly dies after she mentions that her end was near and her inheritance is a matter that will greatly impact on M. Gustave and Zero's lives.

  • Crazy-Prepared: Over the course of 46 years made 636 amendments to her original will. Then, suspecting her premature death, created a separate will that nullifies all the previous documents in case she is murdered.
  • May–December Romance: She has a romance with the much younger Gustave H.
  • Mysterious Employer: She's the mysterious owner of the Grand Budapest Hotel. Kovacs represents her, and the hotel is part of the inheritance she left.
  • Shout-Out: The "und Taxis" part of "Desgoffe und Taxis" is inspired by the Real Life von Thurn und Taxisnote  family, which is part of the German nobility. More specifically, parts of Gustave H.'s personality (his poetic speeches in particular) have been said to be inspired by Rainer Maria Rilke. Marie von Thurn und Taxis entrusted Rilke with a castle, like Madame D. entrusts Gustave H. with a grand hotel (although Gustave didn't know it before Madame D. died).
  • Small Role, Big Impact: Her death at the beginning set all the events of the film after it happened that she wrote a second will so that M. Gustave would be the heir of her fortune instead of her selfish and ambitious son or any possible family member.
  • Token Good Teammate: Of the Desgoffe-und-Taxis. In her short time seen, she fears what may happen to her at the hands of her own family trying to get her fortune, and leaves it all to Gustave.


Dmitri Desgoffe und Taxis

Played by: Adrien Brody

The late Madame D.'s ambitious son. He wants to inherit his mother's fortune but his efforts are stopped by an unexpected force in the shape of a second will that would make M. Gustave H. the benefiter...and Dmitri won't allow that to happen.

  • Big Bad: He wants to inherit his mother's fortune and does everything to stop Gustave to achieve it, including making him the main suspect of his mother's assassination or killing the lawyer in charge of the inheritance.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: He lets out quite a few F-words over the course of the movie.
  • Dark Is Evil: His outfit is completely black and he's the Big Bad.
  • Jerkass: In addition to being a murderous fascist, Dmitri is incredibly rude and selfish. His introduction is marked by calling Gustave a faggot and punching him.
  • Lean and Mean: He's tall, lean and really mean.
  • Nazi Nobleman: Dmitri is associated with Zubrowka's Zig-Zag ("ZZ") fascist movement when they take over the country.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: After the appearance of the second copy of the second will, newspapers say that he disappeared and is never mentioned what his fate was.


J. G. Jopling

Played by: Willem Dafoe

The "assistant" of Dmitri Desgoffe und Taxis.

    Serge X. 

Serge X.

Played by: Mathieu Amalric

A servant to the Desgoffe-und-Taxis. He has something important to say to M. Gustave but suddenly runs away.




Played by: Léa Seydoux

A quiet and dead-serious French maid working for the Desgoffe-und-Taxis family.

  • Emotionless Girl: Clotilde does not smile at any moment nor shows any emotions, just a simple servant who talks when they ask her.
  • French Jerk: She reveals to Big Bad Dmitri that Gustave H. and Zero stole the "Boy with an apple".
    • Although to be fair she didn't do so until the theft had been discovered, and was simply doing her job by revealing it.
  • French Maid: Subverted. Clotilde is not extremely sexy and is a real French woman though she does have a very short skirt.

Zubrowka Inhabitants



Played by: Saoirse Ronan

A young girl with a Mexico-shaped port-wine stain birthmark working at Mendl's bakery. She falls in love with Zero and would become his wife in the future then die from an incurable disease. Also helps M. Gustave to escape from the prison with her cakes.

  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Always has it braided over her head. Agatha is the sweetest and most incorruptible character. She does help Gustave to escape prison but as a favor to her beloved Zero.
  • Innocent Blue Eyes: The look she gave to Zero in the carousel implies that she had never done anything wicked.
  • Jail Bake: She provides to Gustave and his cell mates useful tools inside her cakes for escaping. The prison controls that no food should be filled with escaping tools by opening them but they make an exception with Mendl's pastries, due to how beautiful and exquisite they are.
  • Love Interest: The love of Zero's life.
  • Unkempt Beauty: Even with her face covered with flour, she's just lovely.


Inspector Albert J. Henckels

Played by: Edward Norton

A young police inspector whose parents spent some time in the Grand Budapest during his childhood and has M. Gustave as a highly regarded man. But while he respects M. Gustave, he has to arrest him as the main suspect of Madame D.'s murder.

  • Because You Were Nice to Me: When Henckels' men are about to take Zero away from the train by force for being an illegal immigrant and break Gustave H.'s nose doing so, Henckels shows up in the train, recognizes Gustave and orders his men to release Gustave and Zero. Henckels has not forgotten Gustave's kindness towards him and his family when he was a little boy, and also gives Zero a temporary immigration pass.
  • Inspector Javert: He trusted Gustave H. but as a law enforcement man, he must catch and search for Gustave H. as main suspect and escapee from the Check-point 19 prison.
  • Lead Police Detective: He leads the investigations once Gustave H. has been accused of murdering Madame D.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: The first thing he does after Gustave escapes from prison is putting checkpoints in any possible escaping route like roads and railways, hounds included. Also, during the hilarious shooting at the Grand Budapest, the first thing he yells is stop the fire, but everyone resumes. Then, after a second pause, he finally yells that everyone is arrested.
    • And in a much more heartwarming way, he is the one who gives Zero a permission to stay in Zubrowka as Zero is an illegal and stateless immigrant.
    • A Freeze-Frame Bonus in a newspaper article reveals that he became Secretary General of the Government-in-Exile of Zubrowka during the war, and went on to award Zero a medal for his services to his country of adoption afterwards.

    M. Ivan 

M. Ivan

Played by: Bill Murray

A member of the Society of Crossed Keys and friend of M. Gustave, he helps the concierge and Zero to look for Serge X. after M. Gustave's escape.

  • Covert Group: The Society of Crossed Keys is a secret society of master concierges. They help M. Gustave in secret after his prison break, unbeknownst to the military police and Desgoffe-und-Taxis family.
  • Small Role, Big Impact: He tells M. Gustave that Serge X. is hiding in a monastery at Gabelmeister's Peak, provides him with a train stay and brings M. Gustave's favorite perfume. He doesn't appear again until Zero's wedding with Agatha right at the end.

    Odette X. 

Odette X.

Played by: Giselda Volodi

The clubfooted sister of Serge X.

Check-point 19 Prison



Played by: Harvey Keitel

The leader of the prisoners in Gustave's cell.


Pinky Bandinski
"We think you are a really straight fellow."

Played by: Florian Lukas

One of Gustave's cell mates and the first one whom Gustave makes friend with.

  • Defeat Means Friendship: Gustave H. had to demonstrate his "manliness" and authority inside the prison and had to fight the tough Pinky. And then they become allies.
  • Fluffy the Terrible: He's a criminal and being a tough guy is Serious Business to him... and his name is "Pinky".
  • Pet the Dog: He is a tough prisoner and will kill anyone who is on his way to freedom but he has some taste for a minimalist and delicious Mendl's cake.
  • Real Men Wear Pink: Or they are named as such.



Played by: Volker Michalowski

Another of Gustave's fellow cell mates. He is the only one who will never see sunlight again.

  • Heroic Sacrifice: He sacrifices himself by killing five guards playing cards who were unexpectedly discovered by the escapees. The last remaining guard gives him a final blow by stabbing him with a big knife before dying.
  • The Voiceless: He doesn't say anything, he only listens to Gustave.

    Giant Convict 

Giant Convict

Played by: Frank Jacob

A large prisoner with a scarred face. Gustave befriends him.

  • Because You Were Nice to Me: M. Gustave gave the convict some delicious porridge. He liked it so much that he owed a debt to Gustave by killing a prisoner who was shouting about the escape.
  • Face of a Thug: Zigzagged. He has quite an intimidating stare and a nasty scar on the face to boot and is most likely as brutish as he looks. But he has some appreciation for a kind gesture like being offered a tasty meal.
  • Gentle Giant: Subverted. After Gustave gives him some tasty food, he helps him escape... by brutally murdering a snitching cellmate during the breakout. Gustave calls him a "sweet kind man" nonetheless.
  • No Name Given: His name is never stated onscreen.
  • The Silent Bob: He always uses body language, especially his tough serious face and large size, to express himself.


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