Skip to main contentSkip to footer

True Blood actor Nelsan Ellis dies aged 39

The US actor was known for playing Lafayette Reynolds in the hit drama

nelsan ellis
Sophie Hamilton
Sophie HamiltonParenting Editor
Share this:

Actor Nelsan Ellis, who starred in hit HBO drama series True Blood, has died aged 39. His manager, Emily Gerson Saines, confirmed the sad news to the Hollywood Reporter, saying: "He was a great talent, and his words and presence will be forever missed.” The star died from complications of heart failure. He was known for his popular character, gay short order cook Lafayette, and will be missed greatly by cast members and fans. Nelsan appeared in the show between 2008 until 2014 and was also a stage director and playwright.

true blood© Photo: Rex

Nelsan Ellis played the role of Lafayette in True Blood

American TV network HBO released the following statement after the shock news: "We were extremely saddened to hear of the passing of Nelsan Ellis. Nelsan was a long-time member of the HBO family whose ground breaking 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."

Tributes have poured in for Nelsan since news broke on Saturday. The creator of True Blood, Alan Ball, said Nelsan was “a singular talent whose creativity never ceased to amaze me. Working with him was a privilege.” His co-star Joe Mangeniello, who played werewolf Alcide Herveaux, tweeted: “Crushed today by the loss of my friend and cast mate Nelsan Ellis. He was a wonderful person, a pioneer, and a one of a kind artist. RIP.”

nelsam ellis© Photo: Getty Images

Actor Nelsan Ellis tragically died aged 39

Actress Anna Paquin (Sookie Stackhouse) said on Twitter: "It was an utter privilege to work with the phenomenally talented and deeply kind soul @OfficialNelsan I'm devastated by his untimely death." While another co-star, Michael McMillian, tweeted: "Stunned, devastated by the terrible news of @OfficialNelsan's passing. Nelsan was a genius and a beautiful soul. Sending love to his family."

Fans paid homage to Nelsan on his Instagram page. One follower wrote: “Rest in peace you beautiful artist!!! My deepest sympathies & lots of strength to your family & friends.” A second fan said: “Thanks for sharing your talent with the world.” A third fan posted this message: “RIP!! You'll be missed. Thanks for all the laughter and happiness.” Another follower posted: “So sad to hear this news. Sending lots of love and light to Nelsan's loved ones.”

Nelsan was once quoted as saying to the Philadelphia Inquirer about his True Blood character: “I have more makeup on than any of the females in the (True Blood) cast. Once they get me with the fake eyelashes and the eye makeup, I listen to some Rihanna and I’m there.” The actor is survived by his grandmother, father, his son Breon and seven siblings.

More Celebrity News

See more