Will: G. Gordon Liddy

Will: G. Gordon Liddy is an American television film which first aired on NBC on January 10, 1982. The film depicts the rise and fall of Watergate co-conspirator G. Gordon Liddy. Liddy was portrayed by two different actors: American actor Robert Conrad played Liddy as an adult and child actor Danny Lloyd portrayed him in his youth. Other figures associated with the Watergate scandal and portrayed in this film include Jeb Magruder and John Dean. The movie was directed by Robert Lieberman and was based on Liddy's 1980 autobiography.

Will: G. Gordon Liddy
Will (1982) video tape cover.jpg
The video tape cover for Will.
Written byFrank Abatemarco
Directed byRobert Lieberman
StarringRobert Conrad
John Mahoney
Danny Lloyd
Music byMike Post
Pete Carpenter
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
Executive producerJoan Conrad
ProducerJohn Ashley
Production locationsDeKalb, Illinois
CinematographyPaul Vom Brack
EditorHoward S. Deane
Running time100 min.
Production companyA. Shane Company
Budget$2 million[2]
Original networkNBC
Picture formatColor
Audio formatMono
Original release
  • January 10, 1982 (1982-01-10) (U.S.)


The film follows the rise and fall of convicted Watergate conspirator G. Gordon Liddy. Robert Conrad is cast as the adult Liddy, who is sentenced to 20 years in prison. The film follows the hero through the four and half years he spent behind bars. While in prison, the film portrays Liddy as capable and able to match up to any man in the prison. The film includes several famous details from Liddy's 1980 autobiography including the legendary "hand held over the burning flame," and Liddy's oath, "I will kill for you, Mr. President."[3]

Background and productionEdit

The film was based on Liddy's 1980 bestselling autobiography, Will: The Autobiography of G. Gordon Liddy, and directed by Robert Lieberman.[3][4] Courtroom scenes for the movie were shot in Illinois, at the 1905 DeKalb County Courthouse.[5] The film was a personal project of lead actor Robert Conrad; his daughter was billed as executive producer.[citation needed][6]

It was produced by John Ashley, a former actor who was an old friend of Conrad's.[7] Ashley recalls adapting the book being very difficult, not because of censorship but because it was hard to know what to leave out.[8]



The made-for-television film debuted in the United States on NBC on January 10, 1982.[1] Copies of the film are held in the Nixon Presidential Materials collection of the U.S. National Archives.[9]


Will was the subject of a review by John O'Connor of The New York Times. While O'Connor praised Lieberman, screenwriter Frank Abatemarco and Conrad, he questioned the overall purpose of the film. He rebuked Liddy, stating, "What purpose is ultimately served? The basic criterion seems to be that it sells, enabling various companies and individuals, including Mr. Liddy, to make some money" and comparing it with Helter Skelter, a CBS television movie about Charles Manson and the Manson Family murders. Noting that the source for the film was an autobiography, he went on to pan the producers as "ambivalent" toward the film's subject. O'Connor concluded his review by noting the film's attempt to gloss over the darker parts of Liddy's history: "After a while, it gets increasingly difficult to remember that this law-and-order fanatic is not beyond putting himself above the law, that he seems to exist in a world of absurd macho fantasy (his book refers to 'my best Effrem Zimbalist Jr. (sic) manner' or 'I gave him Broderick Crawford in Highway Patrol'), and that his basic social and political instincts are fascistic."[1]

Comedy sketch show SCTV spoofed Will, depicting Liddy as a rat-eating sociopath who repeatedly suggests to Nixon that they kill their political opponents with piano wire. Canadian actor Dave Thomas played Liddy in the spoof.[10]

In the September/October 2004 issue of Washington Free Press Dr. John Ruhland included the film on a list of "Rad Videos" summarized as "Dirty Politics in the United States." He called the film a "campy and terribly acted account of the Watergate break-in." He noted the film's value as a tool for giving a view into the workings of the United States government.[11]


  1. ^ a b c O'Connor, John J. "Is this autobiography really necessary?," New York Times, January 10, 1982. Retrieved March 14, 2007.
  2. ^ Lamont, John (1990). "The John Ashley Filmography". Trash Compactor (Volume 2 No. 5 ed.). p. 27.
  3. ^ a b Erickson, Hal (For AMG). Will: G. Gordon Liddy, "Movies," New York Times. Retrieved March 14, 2007.
  4. ^ von Hoffman, Nicholas. Gong Ho, "The Autobiography of G. Gordon Liddy," The New York Review of Books. Retrieved March 14, 2007.
  5. ^ History of DeKalb County Courthouse, 16th Judicial Circuit, 2005. Retrieved March 14, 2007.
  6. ^ Joan Conrad Biography, Internet Movie Database. Retrieved March 14, 2007.
  7. ^ Vagg, Stephen (December 2019). "A Hell of a Life: The Nine Lives of John Ashley". Diabolique Magazine.
  8. ^ Lamont, John (199). "The John Ashley Interview Part 2". Trash Compactor (Volume 2 No. 6 ed.).
  9. ^ Main Video File Collection Finding Aid, "Nixon Presidential Materials," National Archives & Records Administration. Retrieved March 14, 2007.
  10. ^ [1]," Turner Classic Movies
  11. ^ Ruhland, John. "#20: Dirty Politics in the United States", Rad Videos, Washington Free Press, September/October 2004, no. 71. Retrieved March 14, 2007.

External linksEdit