Tom Hedden is the secondary antagonist in the 1971 film Straw Dogs, and its 2011 remake.
In the 1971 version, he was portrayed by the late Peter Vaughan. In the 2011 remake, he was portrayed by James Woods.
Tom Hedden is a resident of Wakely, Cornwall. He is the town drunk and uncle of Charlie Venner. Tom is married with four children named Bertie, Janice, Bobby and Emma. Tom spends most of his time at the Wakely Arms pub with his drinking buddies Bertie, Charlie and their friends Norman Scutt, Chris Cawsey and Phil Riddaway.
At the start of the film, Tom expresses surprise the newly arrived American man David Sumner enters the pub. Tom then recognises David as the new resident at Trencher's Farm and tries to act nice by having a polite conversation with David and offering to pay for the latter's cigarettes. However, Tom's inebriated state then causes him to get into an argument with the barman, Harry, over a pint. Since the pub is closing, Harry asks Tom to leave, but Tom starts to get violent and forces his way into the bar and pours himself a drink. The local magistrate, Major Scott, orders Tom to pay Harry and leave, or he'll face charges. It's implied that Tom has had run-ins with the Major before, but Tom has some respect for him, and even offers to buy him a drink, but the Major chooses not to. Tom becomes concerned when local pedophile, Henry Niles, starts to hang around young girls, including his own teenage daughter, Janice. Tom warns John Niles, Henry's brother and carer, to keep a closer eye on his brother, otherwise Tom and his friends will "put him away". Although Tom's eldest son, Bertie, is slightly more tolerant of Niles, Charlie Venner and his friends hate Niles and threaten John. John tells the men that if Henry makes another mistake, he'll be the first to have Henry put away.
David and his wife, Amy, receive harassment from Charlie Venner, Norman Scutt and Chris Cawsey. Due to his meek nature, David tries to make amends by giving Tom some money for a round of drinks for the locals. Tom shows that he is a loving father when he asks his son Bobby to look after Janice whenever Tom is at the pub.
At the church social, Tom is in a jovial mood, getting drunk on punch and heckling the Reverend's magic show. Tom also laughs loudly at the Reverend's remarks. Tom even acts jolly despite the fact that his enemy, Henry Niles, is also at the social. However, the events of the evening take a turn for the worse when Janice seduces Henry, who is sitting alone. The pair leave the church hall together, but this is witnessed by Bobby Hedden, who tells his father the bad news. Tom gets angry and pushes John Niles to the ground and orders him to find his brother. Tom then orders his two sons, Bertie and Bobby to search for Janice. Tom vows to find Henry, and presumably kill him, although Charlie persuades him to search for Janice first. Tom, along with Charlie, Norman, Chris and Phil go to the pub and get drunk while listening for any news regarding Janice. Unbeknownst to the mob, Henry got scared and accidentally smothered Janice to death before running off. Henry is by chance, knocked down by David Sumner, who left the social early with Amy. David takes Henry into the house against Amy's wishes and telephones the pub to ask for the doctor. Harry informs the mob of Niles' whereabouts, and the gang of five, armed with a shotgun, drive off to Trencher's Farm. After Charlie, Norman and Chris fail to learn about Janice's whereabouts, Tom angrily tries to force his way into the Sumner's house. Tom fires shots through the windows and the other men also throw objects at the house and shout at David to give them Niles. Major Scott soon arrives at the Sumner's House and rebukes Tom for his stupid behaviour. Major Scott orders Tom to give him the gun and clear off, but Tom is angry at the Major for not doing his job properly by locking up Niles. A brief struggle between the two men ensues and ends with Tom shooting the Major dead. The mob decide to continue their attack on the house and kill David, Amy and Henry as well. Charlie wishes to protect Amy from the men, as long as she gives them Niles. David decides that the mob have gone too far, and starts to fight back. David throws boiling water over Tom and Charlie, scalding them. Furious, Tom attempts to climb through a broken window, but David forces Tom's shotgun down with a fire poker. This causing Tom to shoot his own foot and lies incapacitated. Tom's allies are also killed by David. It is likely that Tom either dies from his wound or was finished off by David after the siege was complete.
In the remake, Tom Hedden is a drunken football coach, although his role is still pretty much the same.
Tom Hedden is the town drunk and as such, his behaviour can be unpredictable. He can go from being jolly to being aggressive in a drop of a hat. Despite this, Tom is a family man as he is a loving husband, father and uncle and is protective of his daughter, Janice. He also joins in with banter with the local townspeople and has some respect for the local magistrate Major Scott. However, Tom's patience is pushed to the limit when Henry Niles goes out with Janice causing her disappearance. This event caused Tom to drink to excess and become extremely violent, willing to kill anyone who got in his way. Unfortunately for Tom, he began to lose all reason and this resulted in him blowing his foot off with his own gun due to being outsmarted by David Sumner.