Paul Edgecomb is the commanding officer of the death row cellblock at Cold Mountain Penitentiary in Louisiana in 1932 (novel) or 1935 (movie adaptation). He is married to Jan Edgecomb and is a father and a decent man. Though he doesn't care for his position, the Depression dictates that he make the best of an unpleasant task. He watches out for his fellow guards and does what he can for the condemned men. He runs a quiet and neat operation. He befriends John Coffey. When he realizes that John has the ability to cure people he has John cure Melinda Moores, Warden Hal Moores' wife. He is unable to stop John's execution though, which causes him great sadness. He lives in excess of 100 years due to the fact that John passes on a bit of his grace to him when curing Paul of a bladder infection. Paul speculates that it's a curse from God for allowing one of God's chosen to die in such a terrible manner.
- Originally, Tom Hanks was supposed to play old Paul Edgecomb, but the makeup tests didn't make him look credible enough to be an elderly man. Because of this, Dabbs Greer was cast as the older Paul Edgecomb.