There are always a handful of dependable character actors working in film or television that audiences automatically recognize, even if they do not know their names. Actor Shea Whigham is one of those people. Whigham is best known for his role as Eli Thompson on the period gangster show "Boardwalk Empire" (HBO, 2010-14), playing the brother of the venal Atlantic City politician "Nucky" Thompson. It is a role that offered Whigham plenty of room to shine, although one of the gifts of a good character actor is holding back until the right dramatic opportunity to steal the scene. The rugged Whigham had quietly worked for years before getting his career breakthrough on the show, mainly appearing in small independent features like the Vietnam war drama "Tigerland" (2000), David Gordon Green's acclaimed "All the Real Girls" (2003) and the romantic black comedy "Wristcutters: A Love Story" (2006). In 2011 Whigham teamed up with his "Boardwalk Empire" co-star, Michael Shannon, in the independent thriller "Take Shelter," and the following year he appeared in a smaller part in the Oscar-nominated romantic drama "Silver Linings Playbook."