Richard Roma
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Richard Roma

Richard Roma
First appearanceGlengarry Glen Ross
Last appearanceGlengarry Glen Ross (film)
Created byDavid Mamet
Portrayed by
OccupationReal estate agent

Richard Roma is a fictional character from David Mamet's 1982 play Glengarry Glen Ross and its 1992 film adaptation. Roma has been portrayed by a range of actors, including Joe Mantegna, Al Pacino and Liev Schreiber, although the role was originated by Jack Shepherd.

Actors portraying Roma have seen multiple stage award wins and nominations--both Mantegna and Schreiber received a Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Play for their depictions, while Shepherd earned a Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actor for his portrayal. In film, Pacino received nominations for both the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor and the Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture.

Conceptual history

When I walked on that stage, my feeling was: I am that matador. And I'm gonna kill every bull that comes into the arena.

 --Joe Mantegna on playing Roma in Chicago[1]

Roma, along with the rest of the salesmen in Glengarry Glen Ross, was written based on playwright David Mamet's previous experiences selling "worthless" Arizona real estate from an office in Chicago. Mamet described the colorful dialogue used by the character--which has also been described as "following in the steps of" Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman--as having been influenced by overheard conversations and street slang.[1]


Richard Roma is a cut-throat and successful real estate salesman, who derives his success from eloquent and convincing pitches, preying on insecure clients with illusions of power and machismo. During the events of Glengarry Glen Ross, Roma is in contention for a prize to be awarded to the top "closer" at his firm, having just closed a large sale with a man called Lingk. Overnight, the firm's office is burgled, and lucrative leads for top real estate are stolen. Lingk arrives at the office during the investigation, eager to cancel his purchase during his cooling-off period. Roma attempts to distract Lingk from doing so in the hope that this period will pass, trapping Lingk in the sale, but well-intentioned comments by the firm's manager, trying to play along, catch Roma in a lie, and Lingk demands a refund on his purchase.



Writing for The New York Times, Mickey Rapkin considered Roma to be the central character of the play, describing him as "the salesman's salesman, a shark in a sharkskin suit".[2] Mantegna has stated that he feels Roma is not a "sleazy" character, but simply a man who can convince customers to follow through on their dreams.[2] Reviewing a 2012 revival at the La Jolla Playhouse, Charles McNulty of the Los Angeles Times compared Roma to a Giacomo Casanova-type figure, adding that "when Roma puts the moves on a prospective buyer, it's as though he's making love to them".[3] While interviewing actor Aidan Gillen, The Guardian Mark Lawson felt that Roma was an amoral character, considering him a "super-schmoozer". Gillen, then portraying the character in the Apollo Theatre in London, described him as a "cunt with a romantic, poetic streak".[4]


Portrayals of Roma have often been received positively by critics. Schreiber's portrayal in the 2005 Broadway revival was praised as that of "a most crafty spider indeed", with the actor's grasp of the character's Chicago accent praised for its subtlety.[5] Gillen's 2007 turn as Roma has been described as "sweaty and aggressive with a hard, rodent-like quality", with reviewer Lyn Gardner of The Guardian finding the performance excellent.[6]Manu Narayan's 2012 depiction was described as "adding velocity" to a "high testosterone" production, coming across as rhythmic and an effective focal point in the piece.[3] Reviewing the 1992 film version, Roger Ebert praised Pacino's acting, writing "any kid can play a war hero. But it takes a real man to play a busted-down real estate salesman".[7]


Shepherd's original performance as Roma earned the actor a Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actor in 1983.[8] On Broadway, both Mantegna and Schreiber have won the Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Play while portraying Roma--Mantegna at the 38th Tony Awards in 1984,[9] and Schreiber at the 59th Tony Awards in 2005.[10] Pacino's role in the film adaptation earned him several unsuccessful nominations, including the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor and the Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture, both times losing out to Gene Hackman in Unforgiven.[11][12]


  1. ^ a b Ferri, Josh (October 23, 2012). "Expletives, Awards and Star Power: Why Glengarry Glen Ross Sells as a Modern American Classic". Retrieved 2015.
  2. ^ a b Rapkin, Mickey (September 27, 2012). "The Mount Rushmore of Ricky Roma". The New York Times. Retrieved 2012.
  3. ^ a b McNulty, Charles (September 26, 2012). "Theater review: 'Glengarry Glen Ross' crackles with energy". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2012.
  4. ^ Lawson, Mark (October 3, 2007). "Actor Aidan Gillen tells Mark Lawson about performing Mamet and hit US drama The Wire". The Guardian. Retrieved 2012.
  5. ^ Phillips, Michael (May 2, 2005). "Broadway's 'Glengarry' a solid revival of a terrific play". Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on October 14, 2017. Retrieved 2005.(subscription required)
  6. ^ Gardner, Lyn (November 2, 2007). "Stage stuck: how actors struggle to shake off key roles". The Guardian. Retrieved 2012.
  7. ^ Ebert, Roger (September 27, 1992). "Al Pacino, Among Lost of 'Glengarry'". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2012.
  8. ^ "Complete list of Olivier Award winners" (pdf). The Society of London Theatre. p. 4. Retrieved 2012.
  9. ^ Weiss, Hedy (March 6, 1986). "Falk and Mantegna peddle a good line". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on April 9, 2016. Retrieved 2012.(subscription required)
  10. ^ McCarter, Jeremy (May 2, 2005). "David Mamet's Unreal Estate". The New York Sun. Retrieved 2012.
  11. ^ "65th Academy Awards Winners". Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. Retrieved 2012.
  12. ^ "Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor In A Supporting Role in a Motion Picture". Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Archived from the original on July 22, 2013. Retrieved 2012.

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