2017-07-08 22:13:55 UTC
11:53 AM PDT 7/8/2017 by Ryan Parker
Nelsan Ellis, the actor who starred in HBO's True Blood as Lafayette
Reynolds, has died, his manager Emily Gerson Saines, told The Hollywood
He was 39.
"Nelsan has passed away after complications with heart failure," Saines
said. "He was a great talent, and his words and presence will be
On True Blood, Lafayette was a short order cook at Merlotte's. In the
books, he was killed off, but because Ellis made him such an enjoyable
character, he survived in the series.
"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."
True Blood creator, Alan Ball said: "Nelsan was a singular talent whose
creativity never ceased to amaze me. Working with him was a privilege."
Other cast members took to social media to express their heartbreak.
"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,"
said Sam Trammell.
"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,"
said Joe Manganiello.
"One of the sweetest most talented men I've ever met. A terrible loss
for all of us. Rest In Peace Nelsan. You will be missed. I don't know
how else to put words to this terribly sad news," said Kristin Bauer.
"It was an utter privilege to work with the phenomenally talented and
deeply kind soul ***@OfficialNelsan I'm devastated by his untimely
death," said Anna Paquin.
Ellis appeared in numerous film and TV shows, inclduing The Soloist,
The Butler, Get On Up and Elementary.
Ellis was born in Harvey, Ill. He attended Thorn Ridge High School in
Dolton, Illinois. He later attended Oxford University and Columbia
College in Chicago, before graduating from the famed Juilliard School.
Ellis is survived by his grandmother (Alex Brown), his father (Tommie
Lee Thompson) and his son (Breon Ellis). He is also survived by his
siblings - Lakeeia Thomson (sister), Tommie Lee Thompson (brother),
Babon Ellis (brother), Maurice Turne (brother), Tianna Thompson
(sister), Shaentika Beard (sister), Yvonne Ellis (sister) and Tartheaia
His mother, Jackie Ellis, preceded him in death.
In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that donations be made to the
Jenesse Center or The Restoration Ministries Church of God and Christ.