Shea Whigman Jr. appeared in one 1997 episode of the television series Ghost Stories before receiving his first big break—a starring role in the 2000 film Tigerland. He went on to appear in Submerged, R.U.S./H., and Paradise, and later appeared in the 2003 film All the Real Girls. Between 2004 and 2006, he appeared in the Japanese film Out of This World, the drama television series Medical Investigation, and the films Water, Man of the House, Faith of My Fathers, Lords of Dogtown, Psychic Driving, and South of Heaven. He had a regular role on the HBO series Boardwalk Empire as Elias “Eli” Thompson, sheriff of Atlantic County, New Jersey. In 2014, he appeared in the HBO series True Detective.
Throughout his acting career, Whigman has racked up impressive credits working with such legendary Hollywood directors as Martin Scorcese, Robert Redford, Terrence Malick, Werner Herzog, Oliver Stone, David O’Russell and Robert Rodriguez as well as the next generation such as Tim Van Patten, David Gordon Green and Jeff Nichols, among others. Shea has worked opposite such forces as Robert DeNiro, Anthony Hopkins, Bradley Cooper, Christian Bale, Sean Penn and many others.