An athletic, all-American actor whose remarkable audition opposite Colin Farrell led director Joel Schumacher to cast him in his 2000 war drama Tigerland on the spot, Shea Whigham may not be a household name, but with impressive performances in such subsequent features as All the Real Girls and Out of This World, he's certainly become a talent to watch for. Born the son of former Florida State University quarterback Frank Whigham, the young athlete excelled at tennis and soccer in his early years, eventually entering college on a tennis scholarship. It was during his higher education that Whigham discovered a passion for acting, and soon thereafter, the aspiring thespian was accepted into New York's prestigious S.U.N.Y. Purchase Conservatory. A friendship with roommate Kirk Acevedo led the burgeoning actors to co-found the New York-based theater troupe The Rorschach Group, following graduation, with Whigham serving double duty as both performer and artistic director at the downtown Manhattan theater company for three years. After making an impression on audiences with his performance in Tigerland, Whigham went on to appear opposite Sam Neill in the made-for-television nautical drama Submerged, and in the next few years he would continue to gain onscreen momentum by turning in impressive performances in such efforts as All the Real Girls. If the majority of his post-Tigerland roles didn't offer quite the exposure of his impressive debut, appearances in such high-profile Hollywood efforts as Cheer Up and The Lords of Dogtown showed that Whigham was ready and willing to work his way back into the spotlight. He followed through on his potential with a string of mostly indie films including Wristcutters: A Love Story, Splinter, Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, and Machete. He was cast as the corrupt police officer brother of the scheming prohibition-era gangster Nucky Thompson in HBO's Boardwalk Empire, and he would co-star in Take Shelter with his Boardwalk castmate Michael Shannon. In 2012 Wigham could be seen on the big screen in three big projects, Big Miracle, Oliver Stone's drug drama Savages, and David O Russell's crowd-pleaser Silver Linings Playbook.
Biography by Jason Buchanan
- Earned a college scholarship due to his tennis prowess.
- Discovered acting while in college.
- Roomed with actor Kirk Acevedo in college.
- Cofounded the Rorshach Group, a theater troupe in New York, with Acevedo.
- Served as the Rorshach Group's artistic director for its first three years.
- His impressive audition for the 2000 military drama Tigerland led to his role in that film, which also featured Michael Shannon. He and Shannon won roles in HBO's acclaimed series Boardwalk Empire, which debuted in 2010, and which copped a Screen Actors Guild ensemble award. Tigerland helped boost the careers of Shannon, Whigman and its star, Colin Farrell.