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Interview with Shea Whigham

eli sitting

HBO

What's behind Eli's deal with the Commodore?

Shea Whigham

You don't do something like that to Nucky without knowing the repercussions of what's going to happen if it goes south. Eli has eight kids and he's running the town, at least as sheriff. He's been made some promises... and we see very quickly that it was a bad move.

HBO

The new partnership requires him to work with Jimmy. How does he feel about him?

Shea Whigham

Eli and Jimmy - that's really complicated. It's made complicated by Nucky and the Commodore giving Jimmy the reigns and skipping over Eli. Eli watches him as he continues to try to lead while the town falls apart and basically has no power to do anything about that. Eli doesn't think Jimmy is doing it right, like Nucky would do it. He'd handle it seamlessly.

HBO

So how does Eli feel about his brother?

Shea Whigham

The show does a pretty good job showing brothers as they haven't been shown before. You know, the real truth-the fighting, even though he loves him, and trying to get out from under his shadow. Eli is constantly trying to prove himself because he's the younger brother and because Nucky's such a pronounced leader.

HBO

Does he return to Nucky out of desperation or something else?

Shea Whigham

From my point of view, Eli's really been missing his big brother. Even though he's his boss, he's been missing him. I think he goes over there to try to make amends. He's opening up, telling him that he needs him, you know, as a younger brother, and he says he'll do anything for him.

HBO

But instead of a reunion, it becomes a violent confrontation.

Shea Whigham

Nucky puts Eli down. So there's nothing left to do but to do what brothers do-go at each other.

17: Gimcrack & Bunkum

Season 2