Home / E! Online / Nelsan Ellis Dies: True Blood’s Lafayette Was 39

Nelsan Ellis Dies: True Blood’s Lafayette Was 39

Nelsan Ellis

Toby Canham/Getty Images

Nelsan Ellis of True Blood and Elementary fame has died at age 39.

His rep confirmed to E! News Saturday the actor passed away after complications with heart failure.

“He was a great talent, and his words and presence will be forever missed,” his manager told The Hollywood Reporter.

Ellis was born in Illinois and grew up there and in Alabama. He graduated from Julliard and began his onscreen acting career in  the early ’00s. His big break came in 2008, when he made his debut as Lafayette Reynolds, the beloved short order cook and medium on all HBO’s True Blood. He played the character on all seven seasons of the horror and drama series, which aired between 2008 and 2014. Ellis most recently starred as reformed criminal Shinwell Johnson on CBS’ Elementary.

“Heartbreaking,” Deborah Ann Woll, who played the vampire Jessica on True Blood, wrote on Twitter Saturday in response to the news of his death.

“We were extremely saddened to hear of the passing of Nelsan Ellis,” HBO said in a statement to the Hollywood Reporter. “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.”

“Nelsan was a singular talent whose creativity never ceased to amaze me,” said True Blood creator Alan Ball: “Working with him was a privilege.”

Ellis is survived by his son Breon Ellis, his father Tommie Lee Thompson, seven siblings, his aunt and his grandmother, The Hollywood Reporter said.

Check Also

11 Names to Know Ahead of the 2018 Golden Globes Nominations: Jordan Peele, Kumail Nanjiani, Saoirse Ronan and More

We’re coming up on the most wonderful time of the year, and no, we’re not …

Renée Zellweger’s Rep Slams Harvey Weinstein “Sexual Favors” Claim

Globe Photos/ZUMAPRESS.com Renée Zellweger‘s rep is responding to an allegation that the actress gave Harvey Weinstein “sexual favors.” …

Daisy Ridley Admits the Star Wars Cast Doesn’t Hang Out Much

Daisy Ridley is the star of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, even if she doesn’t …

Margot Robbie on the Challenges of Playing Tonya Harding in I, Tonya

If you thought you knew everything about Tonya Harding, think again. Margot Robbie plays the …

Robin Thicke’s Pregnant Girlfriend April Love Geary Poses Nude With Her Birthday Flowers

In honor of her special day, April Love Geary is striking a pose in her birthday …