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Mitchell Y. "Mitch" McDeere is a fictional character and the protagonist of John Grisham's 1991 novel The Firm. Mitch McDeere is a Harvard-educated tax lawyer who has a certified public accountant credential.[1] He is also the husband of Abby McDeere, a Western Kentucky University–educated elementary school teacher. The character was portrayed by Tom Cruise in the 1993 film adaptation of the novel, and most recently by Josh Lucas for Entertainment One Television's show also named The Firm.[2]

Mitchell Y. McDeere
The Firm character
First appearanceThe Firm
Created byJohn Grisham
Portrayed byTom Cruise
(1993 film)
Josh Lucas
(2012 TV series)
FamilyMr. McDeere
(father, deceased)
Eva Ainsworth
Ray McDeere
Rusty McDeere
(brother, deceased)
SpouseAbby McDeere (1988-present)
RelativesHarold Sutherland
Maxine Sutherland
Alma materWestern Kentucky University (1988)
Harvard Law School (1991)


General backgroundEdit

He is regarded as "an old-school, self-made hero" by Entertainment Weekly critic Melissa Maerz.[3] The novel sold 7 million copies and the movie, which starred Tom Cruise,[4] grossed over $158 million ($274 million in 2013 dollars[5]) domestically and $111 million internationally ($270 million worldwide in 1993 dollars).[6][7] Additionally, it was the largest grossing R-rated movie of 1993 and of any film based on a Grisham novel.[8] The film was released while Grisham was at the height of his popularity. That week, Grisham and Michael Crichton evenly divided the top six paperback spots on The New York Times Best Seller list.[9]

Both the novel and the film recount the story of an upstart attorney who was hired out of college by Bendini, Lambert & Locke, a small tax firm in Memphis that is really part of the white-collar crime division of an organized crime family's enterprise.[4] After graduating third in his Harvard Law School class,[1] he became a whistleblower to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and brought down both the firm and the crime family. The TV series begins as the McDeere family emerges from witness protection to encounter old and new challenges.[10] The television show picks up on the story of McDeere and his family ten years after the events of the novel.[11]

His father had been a coal miner and his mother was a waitress.[3] In high school, Mitch had been a star quarterback with several scholarship offers. He injured his knee in his last high school game, and the only school that upheld its scholarship offer was Western Kentucky University. He matriculated and played quarterback as an infrequent starter, while making straight A's and earning a degree in accounting. He and his wife Abby were high school sweethearts who got married after they graduated from Western Kentucky. While Mitch was in law school, she taught kindergarten. They are Methodist.[1] In the novel, he had driven a Mazda hatchback prior to being offered a BMW to work at Bendini.[1] In the novel, his remarried mother lived in a trailer park in Panama City Beach, but he had been raised by his brother Ray.[1]

Critical responseEdit


The character has an ambitious, go-getting nature.[12] Marilyn Stasio of The New York Times describes him as 25 years old and fresh out of Harvard Law School.[13]


"The Tyrone Power of his generation, Cruise hits notes of determination, all-nighter energy and gradually developing standards and smarts that he has hit before, particularly in most recent role, but one couldn't imagine anyone better for this sort of star turn except for Robert Redford 25 years ago."

Todd McCarthy, Variety[12]

The movie role is described as a highly sought-after, cocky, ambitious young Harvard law school grad by Joe Brown of The Washington Post that is not "just another variation on Cruise's patented young hot-shot roles of the past decade".[9] However, Todd McCarthy of Variety says that Cruise's McDeere "could be a brother to his character in 'A Few Good Men'", which had been released six months before.[12] He also describes the character as sought-after.[12] Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly notes that McDeere is "a brilliant, financially strapped Harvard Law School senior who dreams of working on Wall Street."[14] Vincent Canby of The New York Times describes the character as "a bright young man, born poor and deprived, [who] lusts for the good things in life" and notes that he "...plays each side against the other in a manner that becomes increasing mysterious..."[15] Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times describes McDeere as "...a poor boy who is ashamed of his humble origins now that he has graduated from Harvard Law fifth in his class."[16] Empire's Matt Mueller describes him as "brash, grin-flashing hotshot, top in his Harvard law class and Wall Street-bound".[17]

Brown described the role as one that Cruise was born to play: "Cruise was born to play company man, and the role is an opportunity to sum up his old roles and transcend them with his most potently emotional work."[9] Gleiberman notes that Cruise uses "the sneaky-minded agility of a true conspiracy-buster".[14] Ebert describes the natural fit of Cruise for this role: "One look at Cruise and we feel comfortable, because he embodies sincerity. He is also, in many of his roles, just a little slow to catch on; his characters seem to trust people too easily, and so it's convincing when he swallows the Firm's pitches and pep talks."[16]


The television character is consistently described as idealistic. The Hollywood Reporter's Tim Goodman describes Lucas' take as "more idealistic than eager",[18] while Mike Hale of The New York Times also notes his "newfound storefront idealism".[19] David Wiegand of the San Francisco Chronicle also describes him as an "idealistic lawyer" who "is a good lawyer and a good man".[20]

Lucas' performance was repeatedly compared to Cruise's. Chris Lackner of The Gazette describes Lucas as a "less artificial, more nuanced, more credible version" of McDeere than Cruise.[21] Los Angeles Times television critic Mary McNamara opines that Lucas' "...McDeere has no edge, neither the overweening ambition of the Tom Cruise version nor the bitter weariness one might expect to rise in its place after a decade on the run."[22] Robert Bianco of the USA Today notes that Lucas is "...lost in a role that helped cement Tom Cruise as a movie star".[23] Hale notes that Lucas' performance is composed of "a bland competence but not much fire".[19]


  1. ^ a b c d e "The Firm Excerpt". Doubleday, Random House, Inc. Retrieved May 20, 2011.
  2. ^ Rice, Lynette (June 9, 2011). "Done deal: Josh Lucas will do 'The Firm' for NBC". Entertainment Weekly. New York City: Meredith Corporation. Retrieved June 10, 2011.
  3. ^ a b Maerz, Melissa (December 28, 2011). "TV Review: The Firm". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved January 3, 2012.
  4. ^ a b Hibberd, James (April 29, 2011). "NBC in talks for John Grisham's 'The Firm' TV series". CNN. Atlanta, Georgia: Turner Broadcasting Systems. Archived from the original on May 1, 2011. Retrieved May 21, 2011.
  5. ^ Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis Community Development Project. "Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–". Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retrieved January 2, 2019.
  6. ^ Fox, David J. (July 6, 1993). "Movies: 'The Firm,' with $31.5 million for the weekend, leads the way. Total movie receipts for the four-day holiday are an estimated $120 million". The Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles, California: Tronc. Retrieved October 26, 2010.
  7. ^ Fox, David J. (July 20, 1993). "Weekend Box Office : So Far, This Is Summer to Beat". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 10, 2011.
  8. ^ "The Firm". Box Office Mojo. Los Angeles, California: Fandango Media. Retrieved March 20, 2019.
  9. ^ a b c Brown, Joe (July 2, 1993). "'The Firm' (R)". The Washington Post. Washington DC: Nash Holdings LLC. Retrieved January 8, 2012.
  10. ^ Cahill, Sarah (April 29, 2011). "John Grisham's Mitch McDeere Is Back On the Run". Word & Film. New York City: Random House, Inc. Retrieved May 30, 2011.
  11. ^ Vlessing, Etan (May 16, 2011). "NBC's The Firm To Be Shot In Toronto". The Hollywood Reporter. Los Angeles, California: Eldridge Industries. Retrieved May 21, 2011.
  12. ^ a b c d McCarthy, Todd (June 27, 1993). "The Firm". Variety. Los Angeles, California: Penske Media Corporation. Retrieved January 8, 2012.
  13. ^ Stasio, Marilyn (March 24, 1991). "Crime". The New York Times. Retrieved January 8, 2012.
  14. ^ a b Gleiberman, Owen (July 9, 1993). "The Firm (1993)". Entertainment Weekly. New York City: Meredith Corporation. Retrieved January 8, 2012.
  15. ^ Canby, Vincent (June 30, 1993). "The Firm (1993): Review/Film: The Firm; A Mole in the Den of Corrupt Legal Lions". The New York Times. New York City: New York Times Company. Retrieved January 8, 2012.
  16. ^ a b Ebert, Roger (June 30, 1993). "The Firm". Chicago Sun-Times. Chicago, Illinois: Sun-Times Media Group. Retrieved January 8, 2012.
  17. ^ Mueller, Matt (January 1, 2000). "The Firm (1993)". Empire. London, England: Bauer Media Group. Retrieved January 8, 2012.
  18. ^ Goodman, Tim (January 6, 2012). "Review: 'The Firm' Still Average 20 Years Later as a Television Series: NBC makes law procedural from old book, film". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved January 7, 2012.
  19. ^ a b Hale, Mike (January 6, 2012). "A Lawyer Leaves Witness Protection Because Everything's Fine Now. Right?". The New York Times. Retrieved January 7, 2012.
  20. ^ Wiegand, David (January 5, 2012). "'The Firm' review: good old-fashioned thrills". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved January 7, 2012.
  21. ^ Lackner, Chris (January 2, 2012). "Old Ideas and new pop trends in 2012: Leonard Cohen releases album, Kiefer Sutherland has right Touch and Charlie Sheen takes on Anger Management". The Gazette. Retrieved January 3, 2012.
  22. ^ McNamara, Mary (January 7, 2012). "Television review: 'The Firm' is now just another legal thriller". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 7, 2012.
  23. ^ Bianco, Robert (January 5, 2012). "New TV adaptation of 'The Firm': Legally bland". USA Today. Retrieved January 7, 2012.

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