Zero is the protagonist of the film. We see him at two ages: first as a young lobby boy at the Grand Budapest Hotel, and also as a lonely old hotel owner. A refugee, Zero has no family and, when we first meet him, has talked his way into a job as a try-out lobby boy. Zero is deadpan, serious, competent, loyal, and committed to serving the fastidious Gustave. He is wiling to join Gustave in his misadventures and risk death in order to help Gustave achieve his ends. He is also deeply in love with Agatha, the girl who works at the bakery; he remains devoted to her long after her death. As an old man, he is clearly lonely, as the people who matter to him are long dead and his hotel is very quiet. His memories are the reason for and the subject of the movie.
Gustave is a concierge at the Grand Budapest Hotel and represents the gold standard of concierges. He is the type of person who does everything so effortlessly that you don't notice him doing it, and he prizes the hotel guests' satisfaction over anything else. He is a foppish, effete, and charming aesthete with a taste for the finer things and a love of romantic poetry. He sleeps with wealthy elderly women who come to stay at the hotel—part of his above-and-beyond approach to service, and as he tells Dmitri at one point, "I sleep with all of my friends."
Gustave knows that one catches more flies with honey than with vinegar, and in jail he wins fellow inmates over with generosity. Despite his suave and proper air, though, he is actually a scrapper and fights easily. And in spite of his seeming superficiality and preoccupation with aesthetics, Gustave is a man of principle, and the pride he takes in his hotel maps on to his deep sense of justice, as demonstrated when he argues with the military on Zero's behalf.
Ultimately proven to be the mysterious unknown owner of the hotel, Madame D is also a benefactor, sexual partner and best friend of Gustave. She loves Gustave, as he has made her happier than anyone in her greedy family has ever been able to. She seems to have a premonition about her own murder and also no illusions about her family which is why she makes sure there is a copy of her second will.
Agatha is a baker at the bakery, Mendl's. She and Zero rather immediately begin a passionate romance. Agatha is a spunky young woman, athletic and brave, and is willing to help Zero in his quest to clear Gustave's name. She trusts Zero deeply very early on in their relationship. Unfortunately, Agatha's story is ultimately a tragedy as she dies not long after her marriage to Zero.
Serge is a shifty butler working in the house of the countess. His behavior is shady at best and he seems to be engaged in subterfuge; despite his seeming to be on Gustave's side when Gustave comes for the reading of the will, he curiously goes into hiding afterwards, and accuses Gustave of murdering the countess.
Serge's main function in the story is to make sure that Madame D's wishes are adhered to and her murderers brought to justice, but he falls victim to the corrupt strategies of the countess' children and is ultimately strangled by the assassin, Jopling.
Clotilde is the countess's maid.
Serge's clubfooted sister keeps his whereabouts hidden by pretending that she hasn't heard from him even though she has. Jopling decapitates her for her silence.
Cold, calculating, and cruel Dmitri is the son of Madame D. and also the engineer of her murder and of the plot to frame Gustave for it. Driven by money and greed, he is eager to get his hands on his mother's immense fortune.
Inspector Henckels is a good detective and a decent man, but he is easily led astray by corrupting forces. He came to the hotel with his parents as a child and remembers Gustave, which gives him a certain fondness for the dutiful concierge.
The Author is a traveler and a citizen of the world and the transcriber of Zero's tale. He is inquisitive and curious, a compassionate listener and meticulous scribe.
Jopling is Dmitri's bloodthirsty psychopathic assassin. He is a man of few words, and does all of Dmitri's dirty work. He eventually falls to his death when Zero pushes him off a cliff.
The Grand Budapest Hotel Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for The Grand Budapest Hotel is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.