Nelsan Ellis sadly passed away at just 39 years-old. Fans adored the actor for playing the beloved Lafayette Reynolds on HBO’s hit show ‘True Blood.’ Here’s what we know.
Nelsan Ellis tragically passed away at 39. The actor played the fan favorite Lafayette Reynolds on HBO’s True Blood. “Nelsan has passed away after complications with heart failure,” his manager Emily Gerson Saines told The Hollywood Reporter. “He was a great talent, and his words and presence will be forever missed.” Nelsan lit up the screen on True Blood as the short order cook at Merlotte’s. His character was the cousin of Sookie’s (Anna Paquin) best friend Tara (Rutina Wesley).
The show’s creator Alan Ball was absolutely heartbroken when he heard the news. “Nelsan was a singular talent whose creativity never ceased to amaze me. Working with him was a privilege,” he said. Lafayette originally died in the True Blood book series, but viewers loved him so much they kept Nelsan on the show! HBO also expressed their grief to have lost such a talented and beloved actor so soon. “We were extremely saddened to hear of the passing of Nelsan Ellis,” the company said in a statement. “Nelsan was a long-time member of the HBO family whose groundbreaking portrayal of Lafayette will be remembered fondly within the overall legacy of True Blood. Nelsan will be dearly missed by his fans and all of us at HBO.” You might also remember Nelsan from The Soloist, Elementary, The Butler, The Stanford Prison Experiment, Little Boxes or Get On Up.
Nelsan was born in Harvery, Illinois and later moved to Alabama with his mother after his parents unfortunately decided to divorce. Nelsan ended up catching the acting bug and graduated from the Juilliard School. He was survived by his son Breon Ellis, father Tommie Lee Thompson, and grandmother Alex Brown, and Nelsan’s seven siblings. His mother Jackie Ellis sadly passed away before him.
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