James B. Donovan

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James B. Donovan

Bridge of Spies

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About Him

Living... contentedly, in New York. James is living the perfect 1950s life: he has a stable job, a beautiful home, and a loving family.

Profession... insurance lawyer. But Donovan’s latest case is a little out of the ordinary. To prove the U.S. treats its prisoners well, the government hires Donovan to defend a captured Soviet spy named Rudolf Abel. Later Donovan is recruited for an even more unusual case: negotiating a prisoner trade between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. And the stakes couldn’t be higher. As Donovan notes, “The next mistake our countries make could be the last one.”  

Interests... truth, justice, and the American way. Oh, and a nice Scotch.

Relationship Status... a happily married family man. Unfortunately, these high-pressure cases are putting stress on the Donovans. Defending Abel has made Donovan a hated public figure and his family sometimes winds up in the line of fire too. Even worse, James can’t tell his supportive wife Mary about his covert government business. Nevertheless he still finds great comfort in unwinding with his wife and kids.   

Challenge... upholding his moral code. Donovan has a strong sense of right and wrong and a deep belief in fairness and equality. Thrown into a world of secrets, lies, and espionage, Donovan faces constant pressure to compromise. But he believes he must hold fast to his sense of justice in an increasingly murky world. As he explains to a CIA Agent who wants to bend the rules, “I'm Irish, you're German, but what makes us both Americans? Just one thing: the rulebook. We call it the Constitution and we agree to the rules and that's what makes us Americans… So don't tell me there's no rulebook.”

Personality... shrewd, moral, and resolute. Donovan makes an excellent lawyer because he can argue his way out of just about every problem. And when he can’t, he’s stubborn enough to stand his ground until his opponent changes their mind. Calm under pressure and always affable, Donovan feels drawn to protect underdogs and he can be remarkably brave when he’s trying to help someone else. Above all, Donovan never loses sight of the human side of his cases – he tries to empathize with even his most dissimilar opponent.

James B. Donovan's popularity ranking on CharacTour is #3120 out of 5,000+ characters. See our top-ranked characters and read their profiles.


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