Fans of the hit HBO series True Blood are mourning today after news that one of its most beloved and memorable stars has passed.
Nelsan Ellis played the fan favorite character and short order cook at Merlotte’s Lafayette Reynolds on the series for all seven seasons of the show. His character was originally killed off in the second book of the series, but Ellis’ performance made the creators of the series keep him on where he went on to become a fan favorite. HBO released a statement today regarding the actors passing.
“We were extremely saddened to hear of the passing of Nelsan Ellis,” HBO 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.”
Messages poured in from many of his True Blood confederates including series creator Alan Ball.
“Nelsan was a singular talent whose creativity never ceased to amaze me. Working with him was a privilege.”
Sam Trammell, who played Sam Merlotte on the series said on social media;
“I don’t know if I’ve ever seen the level of humility and kindness that came with the Magnificent Talent that Nelsan Ellis had. Miss u friend,” he said.
Joe Manganiello expressed his grief as well in a statement;
“Crushed today by the loss of my friend and castmate Nelsan Ellis. He was a wonderful person, a pioneer, and a one of a kind artist. RIP,” he wrote.
Ellis was born in Harvey, Il. outside Chicago and raised both in Harvey and in Bessemer, Alabama by his grandmother before finishing high school in Illinois and going on to Julliard and receiving a B.F.A in 2004. He was nominated for both a Screen Actor’s Guild Award and an NAACP Image Award for his work on True Blood. He also appeared in films like The Butler, where he played Martin Luther King Jr. as well as the James Brown biopic Get On Up.
Ellis died July 8, 2017 in Los Angeles from complications from heart failure according to his manager.
He was 39 years old.
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