Jerry Hathaway is one of the main antagonists in the 1985 cult classic comedy film Real Genius. He is portrayed by actor William Atherton.
Jerry Hathaway is a professor at Pacific Tech, a college in California, in which he teaches science and physics. Jerry is also the host of a public access show called "Everything". Jerry was working on a project, building a laser for the C.I.A., developing a laser. The funding for the laser has gone some to Jerry, who is using some of it to fix up his house. Some of his students include Chris Knight, Kent Torokvei, Bodie, Carter, and Cornell. Jerry sometimes has Kent be his errand boy.
Jerry brings in a young genius to Pacific Tech named Mitch Taylor, who is 15 years old who skipped a few grades. He talks to Mitch at a science fair and meets his parents. Mitch ends up becoming room mates with Chris Knight. Jerry allows Mitch to head up the project, though not to Kent's liking. Jerry tells Kent that he needs to give Mitch all the data. Later on, Jerry meets up with Maj. Donald Carnagle of the C.I.A., who is on Jerry's back about the laser getting ready by May.
Jerry has a jog later on, he arrives at home to meet up with Chris Knight. Jerry shoos a dog away that always comes to his yard. Chris has a bag of popcorn with him and tells Chris to get rid of it cause he can't stand the smell of popcorn. Jerry has a talk with Chris Knight about wanting 5 megawatts by May and tells Chris that he wants him in the lab more. Jerry threatens Chris about his future.
Later on while shooting an episode of "Everything", Kent arrives and tells Jerry that Mitch and Chris are at a party. Kent takes him there and sees Mitch and tells him that he is not too pleased with him. Mitch, upset, gets ready to leave, but Chris talks him out of it.
Jerry calls Chris to his house again. Chris arrives and meets Susan Decker, the daughter of David Decker, the director of the C.I.A.. Jerry was talking to David Decker and Maj. Carnagle and was being hassled by Decker to get the laser ready. They leave and Jerry tells Chris Knight that he is giving the Darlington Instruments job to Kent though it was Chris's job cause Chris is not in the lab much. Jerry threatens to flunk Chris even if he passes his class.
Chris, while working on the laser, gets a meltdown cause of Kent sabotaging it, but realizes what it needed to work. Later on that night, he goes to Dr. Hathaway's house, who was having sex with Susan Decker. Chris tells Jerry that he solved the power problem. Chris and Mitch give Dr. Hathaway, Kent, Bodie, Carter, and Cornell a demonstration. The laser works and Jerry tells Chris he graduates and gets the job at Darlington. Kent, not too pleased to hear that, tries to convince him not to cause of all the favors he done for him and the mirror he built for the tracking system.
Chris, Mitch, Jordan, and Ick go out and celebrate. They get a visit from Lazlo Hollyfeld, who figured out what the laser is going to be used for, they realized that Dr. Hathaway lied to them. Jerry took the laser away to the C.I.A., they will be testing the laser from the Air Force base. Chris. Mitch, Lazlo, Jordan, and Ick get the information on where the laser is at by knocking out Kent with gas and putting a reciever in his braces. Mitch talks to Kent though it using a voice disguiser. Ick later on follows Dr. Hathaway to the Air Force base. Chris, Mitch, Jordan go to get tons of popcorn and put it in a big tin foil ball in Dr. Hathaway's house. Chris and Mitch get fake I.D.s to get onto the Air Force base. Jerry is there with David Decker, Maj. Carnagle, and a General who are getting ready to test the laser. Chris and Mitch posing as technicians, put a different microchip in the computer and then leave. The laser is being reprogrammed to aim at Dr. Hathaway's house.
Later on, Chris, along with Mitch, Jordan, and Ick bring Dr. Meredith and Congressman Duggan to show proof of Dr. Hathaway's misdeeds. Kent arrives after getting a message from Jesus. The laser is activated and hits the house, Kent goes inside and sees a light, the laser hits the foil ball and the popcorn pops and floods Dr. Hathaway's house. Kent is saved by the overflow of popcorn.
Later on, Jerry Hathaway arrives home to see his house split some and full of popcorn.