Phileas has an ideal personality set for a protagonist; being a kind-hearted individual with a sense of humor.
Role in the film
Phileas Fogg is first seen testing out his latest invention in the garden of his mansion with his French valet, Jean Michel (whom he mistakenly calls Pierre). He tends to prove that man can break the 50-mph speed barrier without disrupting his internal organs. When he states to Jean Michel that they "will make history or die trying," Jean Michel gets fed up and refuses to be catapulted, electrocuted, or have his internal organs disrupted any longer and quits Fogg. Jean Michel refers to his former master as "a very sick man." As Jean Michel leaves, Fogg reminds Jean Michel that the electrocution wasn't his fault since he refused to wear the rubber underpants.
When Mr. Fogg rhetorically asks himself "if there is no man brave enough to be his valet," his prayer is answered when a Chinese named Lau Xing, who robbed the bank of England earlier in the day and was hiding in a tree of his home, accidentally slips from the tree and drops on the ground next to Fogg. Lau Xing finally takes the opportunity of being Mr. Fogg's new valet as an advantage to evade the police authorities. However, Mr. Fogg only accepts French valets so Lau Xing begins persuading him that he is French from his "French" father's side and that his mother's Chinese and "never shuts up." When Mr. Fogg finally accepts Lau Xing and asks him if he's willing to take the risk of breaking the 50-mph speed barrier, Lau Xing agrees as long as it means avoiding the police.
The experiment finally works and is a success until it breaks; causing Lau Xing to fly around London under steam pressure. After accidentally causing some trouble around the streets of London, the pressure runs out of steam and Lau Xing is able to walk again. Lau Xing then tries to resign from being Mr. Fogg's valet, despite being considered a brave valet to whom Mr. Fogg can test with all his other inventions, but then changes his mind when seeing the police arrive.
A few days later, Mr. Fogg brings Lau Xing to his home and laboratory as he is shown all kinds of his inventions; including bottled light (light bulbs considered undiscovered science from an American named Thomas Edison) that turns on with a whistle. When Fogg asks for Lau Xing's name, Lau Xing dubs himself a French name, "Passepartout."
The next morning, Fogg and Passepartout head out to the Royal Academy of Science where Mr. Fogg announces to all the ministers and lords of science; including his arch-nemesis; Lord Kelvin about the success of his early experiment. However, Fogg is insulted by them, who believes that everything worth discovering has already been discovered. During a discussion, Phileas is pressured into a bet to see whether he can travel around the world in 80 days. If he wins, he will become Minister of Science in Lord Kelvin's place rather than being paid 10,000 pounds but if not, he will be forced to destroy his own lab and never invent anything again. Understanding that the journey will take them to China, Passepartout sees this as an opportunity to travel faster and return home to protect it from his enemies.
At first, Phileas feels uncomfortable about his early decision of accepting the wager but Passepartout, being an honest and caring man, encourages him otherwise. Phileas and Passepartout start their journey around the world with a steam-powered carriage of Phileas' invention. They borrow a Police carriage and leave London after a confrontation with Inspector Fix, a corrupt officer hired by the Royal Academy of Science to stop them for "violating the city's new vehicle code."
On the second day of the journey, Phileas and Passepartout journey to Paris. Pretending to take Phileas to a science convention with Thomas Edison when seeing Black Scorpions sent by his enemy, General Fang to retrieve the Jade Buddha and disguised as types of French citizens, Passepartout leads him to an art school where Phileas meets Monique La Roche, a would-be impressionist. Fang had previously given the Jade Buddha to Kelvin in exchange for military assistance in China, which is why Passepartout stole it back from the Bank of England in the first place. There, Passepartout is attacked by the disguised Black Scorpions, whom he manages to defeat countless times victoriously while Phileas and Monique discuss their opinions about Impressionism, paintings, and her drawings. When Monique learns of Phileas' ambition, she convinces them to take her with them. They depart in a hot-air balloon, chased by Fang's warriors and other French citizens.
Whilst on the Orient Express of Munich, Monique learns that Passepartout is trying to return the Jade Buddha back to his village and is travelling with Phileas to get there quickly. Monique keeps his secret in exchange for him convincing Phileas to let her travel with him. Despite Passpepartout's failed attempt to convince Fogg otherwise, Monique manages to get herself accepted when making the train go faster, which Fogg previously failed to do and who had hoped Monique would fail as well.
After Passepartout stops Inspector Fix from arresting him on the train, the trio travel to Turkey, where the train stops in Istanbul on the tenth day of the journey. Guards climb on board and inform the trio that they are greeted by Prince Hapi and invited to his banquet at his palace. During the Prince's banquet, he orders Monique to stay as his seventh wife since he had taken a sudden love interest when he first laid eyes on her while the men are ordered to leave when they find the idea of a seventh wife completely ridiculous. The men blackmail Prince Hapi into releasing Monique using a prized but apparently flimsy "The Thinker" statue of the Prince sculptured by Rodin himself. The statue is accidentally destroyed, much to Hapi's anger, but the three travelers escape from the guards and lock them up inside the palace using the statue's broken right arm.
Back in England, according to Inspector Fix's report, Lord Kelvin learns that Phileas has been involuntarily abetting a thief's escape when Fix states that the bank thief and Fogg's valet are the same man. He orders the British colonial authorities in India to arrest them both.
On the twenty-fourth day in Agra, India, in a train, Passepartout is seen telling Indian children stories about the famous "Ten Tigers of Canton"; including the most famous of them all, Wong Fei Hung while Fogg does some calculations. After a few discussions about opinions of legends between Fogg and the children, the train is stopped by the British military. Passepartout sees notice of the price on his and Fogg's head and warns his companions. Disguised as women, they evade the police but are again attacked by Fang's warriors; a hulking chained agent, a female agent, and Inspector Fix. Using Inspector Fix and martial arts (by Passepartout) and a sextant from his cane of many inventions (by Fogg) as weapons, they defeat their assailants and flee to China.
On the forty-first day in Lanzhou, China, as Mr. Fogg sleeps in a yak-powered cart, Monique notices Passepartout's troubled look and asks what's wrong. Passepartout states that he can't keep lying and manipulating Mr. Fogg much longer. Monique comforts him when she tells him that it would only cost Fogg's "money" in the wager's loss for that matter but Passepartout justifies that Fogg will lose something much more than that. Finally, they arrive at Passepartout/Lau Xing's village. As they pass by, the villagers begin to welcome, greet, and praise Lau Xing's victorious return as they repeat "Lau Xing" a few times; including some children (who are then told by Lau Xing to give his friends the same greeting too) and of course, Lau Xing's family; especially his mother.
At night, at Lau Xing's home, Lau Xing's family celebrates Lau Xing's return and success for returning the Jade Buddha. Fogg doesn't feel well after having drunk too much alcohol and decides to lie down in Lau Xing's room. In his room, Fogg discovers Passepartout's pictures everywhere with his family and the message he wrote to his father in England earlier. When Lau Xing notices that Fogg has discovered the truth, Lau Xing admits he was going to tell him the truth sooner or later, his name is Lau Xing, and that he robbed the Bank of England for the Jade Buddha since it was stolen from his village. Fogg becomes mad when he finds out that Lau Xing and Monique used him: Lau to escape to China and Monique to travel the world to further her impressionism. Then, Fogg storms out the house to continue his journey alone. Monique tells Passepartout to go after him because he would be lost but when Passepartout gets out, he finds Fogg captured and surrounded by Black Scorpion army soldiers.
In the morning, Fogg and his friends are captured and imprisoned inside small wooden cages. Then, the Black Scorpion army general arrives to interrogate them about the whereabouts of the Jade Buddha. When he starts with Passepartout, Passepartout has the nerve to tell him: "You are better off killing me." When the general threatens his friends with their lives, Lau Xing challenges him to a fight. At first, he fights alone and is defeated (due to cheating and fighting too many men); moments later, he is joined by Wong Fei Hung and the Ten Tigers of Canton, of which Lau Xing is one of. The Tigers drive the Black Scorpions from the village and free the Westerners. The Buddha is returned to the village temple. Phileas, unhappy that his companions used him, leaves China to travel alone.
After crossing the Pacific Ocean, on the sixty-first day of the journey in San Francisco, Phileas Fogg is duped into losing his money from a woman faking an ankle injury when he leaves to find her a doctor and accidentally leaves his bag of money behind as well. Three days later, Lau Xing and Monique arrive to search for Mr. Fogg. Fogg is seen living on the streets as a tramp in an alley where he begs for money from people along with a hobo. When Fogg tells him about his dream of building a flying machine, the hobo freaks out and leaves. When Lau Xing and Monique pass the alley, they find Phileas but they don't recognize him so they continue on. Then, Fogg finally reveals himself to be Phileas Fogg. Altogether, they decide to travel and win the bet no matter what.
In the desert, on the sixty-sixth day, Passepartout is seen fainting after failing to find some help for the repairs of their damaged cart wheels whil Fogg and Monique have been waiting patiently for hours. Fogg and Monique find the Wright brothers and the three inventors discuss the flying machine. Phileas finds the brothers' plans brilliant but suggests a few changes. The brothers managed to find Passepartout and continue their journey after the brothers replaced their damaged wheels with new ones.
On the seventy-second day, Lau Xing, Monique, and Phileas' next stop is New York City, where a crowd greets them, making it impossible for them to reach their ship. A policeman takes them through a building he claims is a shortcut, but it is an ambush and the cop is actually a dirty one. Fang's minions made arrangements with Lord Kelvin to take Lanzhou and tap the jade reserves underneath it, but if Phileas wins the bet, Lord Kelvin will not have the means to help them. A battle against Fang and her minions commences in the workshop where the Statue of Liberty was constructed, ending in Fang being knocked out by Monique with a punch. The three friends are victorious. Though Phileas could have gotten on the boat, he misses it to help Lau Xing. Phileas feels he has lost, but the other two say they may still make it if they catch the next ship.
The next day, in the Atlantic Ocean, they board an old ship named Carmen and Phileas convinces the captain to let him build a plane out of the ship's old wood in exchange for a new ship and replacing his nipples, which were both bitten off with one bite from a shark once. Using the changed Wright brothers' plans, Phileas builds a plane while the ship's crew builds a catapult to launch it into the sky. On the final eightieth day, after being launched by the catapult on their invention, they reach London where the machine falls apart and they crash in front of the Royal Academy. Lord Kelvin sends the police to stop them from making it to the top step of the Royal Academy of Science for "robbing the Bank of England," and the clock strikes noon, ending the wager.
Lord Kelvin proclaims himself the victor. Monique, Fix, and other ministers attest to Kelvin's unfair methods and his bullying nature, but Kelvin scoffs at them. In the process, he insults Queen Victoria, who is nearby listening. She learned that he had sold her arsenal to Fang in exchange for jade mines in China; thanks to one of his aides. Kelvin is finally arrested and sent to prison, but vows revenge on all of England, especially Phileas. Phileas realizes he is one day early thanks to crossing the international date line. He ascends the stairs of the Academy and kisses Monique, victorious in his bet, as Lau Xing fails to help an injured Inspector Fix from hilariously falling from the top step of the Academy and slip from his left arm cast.
- Although Phileas is the overall protagonist and has bigger plans, Passepartout drives the plot and is more iconic than him.