In public, Lord Kelvin seems to be quite a chivalrous gentleman, as he welcomes any innovation or discovery that can benefit the Royal Academy of Science. However, in truth, he is shown to be quite rude, arrogant, manipulative, diabolical, conceited, and scheming in nature, as he believes that everything worth discovering has already been discovered, and that he considers Phileas Fogg's claims about evolution and flying machine to be quite ridiculous (despite Fogg's actual evidence over his claims). He is also shown to be quite resourceful as he arranged several British authorities to capture Fogg and his friends after learning that his current valet Lau Xing (going under the pseudonym Passepartout) was the one who stole the Jade Buddha from the Bank of England. He is also misogynistic as he finds the idea of taking orders from women to be quite ridiculous, scoffing at General Fang's advice in keeping the Jade Buddha under his watch and insulting Queen Victoria without assessing any risks.
Lord Kelvin is also shown to be abusive, demanding, and contumelious towards his fellow servants and conspirators; this was shown when he angrily threw quills at Colonel Kitchener after learning that the Jade Buddha was stolen from the Bank of England, and that he threw out Inspector Fix from a high window for his failure to arrest Fogg. He even threw a quill at General Fang after she berated him for letting the Jade Buddha loose from his grasp, only for an annoyed Fang to catch it with her fan and throw it along with a dagger into his portrait. This abusive behavior also proved to be Kelvin's downfall, as it incited Fang to cut off his deal in retaliation and Fix and the other ministers to turn against him by exposing his plot of selling British arsenal for untapped jade reserves, resulting his arrest.
Role in the film
Despite his position as head of the academy, Kelvin arrogantly believes that everything worth discovering has already been discovered. However, Phileas Fogg is a man who finds science fascinating and is constantly wanting to make new discoveries, including the idea of creating a flying machine.
Fogg goes to the Royal Academy to express some of his new findings, but ends up being talked into a bet by Kelvin, specifically to prove whether it is possible to travel around the world in no more than 80 days. At first, Fogg is extremely reluctant and unenthusiastic, but after being mocked by Kelvin, he changes his mind and accepts the challenge. He and Kelvin agree that if Fogg wins the bet, he will take Kelvin's place as the new minister. However, if he loses, Kelvin will tear down Fogg's laboratory and force him never to invent anything ever again.
Fogg teams up with Lau and a French woman named Monique La Roche. As it turns out, Lau recently robbed the Bank of England to reclaim a divine object known as the Jade Buddha, which was stolen from his village Lanzhou by a military extremist organization known as the Black Scorpions (led by General Fang), and tagged along with Fogg to return the Jade Buddha back to his village. It also turns out that Fang is in league with Kelvin, as she smuggled the jade statue to him in exchange for military assistance to invade Lanzhou. During Fogg's journey, Kelvin sends Inspector Fix to pursue him and prevent him from winning the bet. He also learns that Passepartout was the criminal who robbed the bank and contacts several British colonial authorities to capture the trio at all costs. He also learns of untapped jade reserves that are buried beneath Lanzhou and agrees to lend in British arsenal for Fang if she and her cohorts can stop Fogg and his friends from winning the wager. However, as the days goes by, the trio manages to defeat Fang and her associates while evading Fix and the authorities to continue their expedition onward to the Atlantic Ocean. During the last days, the trio create a flying machine using detailed plans that Fogg had earlier acquired from the Wright brothers out of part from a ship.
At the eightieth day, the trio fly their contraption and arrive at the front steps of the Royal Academy, much to Kelvin's annoyance. He is also angered to receive a telegram from an humiliated Fang that she is cutting off the deal following her defeat in New York. Before Fogg can reach the top of the steps (where his journey officially began), Kelvin delays him by accusing him and his cohorts of robbing the Bank of England without proof as the clock strikes noon. However, Inspector Fix appears and turns on Kelvin for his abusive behavior by revealing Kelvin's plot of arresting Fogg and sending Fang and the Black Scorpions to kill him in New York to win the wager. This was confirmed by Monique and the other ministers from the Academy, as they too had enough of Kelvin's abusive nature. With that in mind, the citizens turn on Kelvin for this, but Kelvin taunts everyone that he still runs the Academy and that no one can do anything about it, insulting Queen Victoria in the process. However, Queen Victoria arrives to the scene overhearing Kelvin's tirade, having caught wind of Kelvin's plan to sell the British arsenal for the jade reserves in Lanzhou (thanks to a tip-off from one of Kelvin's former aides). With his true colors exposed, Kelvin attempts to run away, but is easily caught and arrested by the police on the Queen's orders, much to his fury.
It also turns out that the Fogg did not take notice of crossing the international date line, which leaves him and his friends one more day to win the wager. With that in mind, Fogg happily runs into the top step of the Academy, thus winning the wager and becoming Kelvin's replacement as the new head of the Academy. Kelvin is last seen locked up in a police cart as he is furious by this turn of events while being taken away to prison for his crimes, swearing vengeance on Fogg for ruining his reputation.