'True Blood' star Nelsan Ellis has died aged 39

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Nelsan Ellis, who starred as Lafayette Reynolds in True Blood has died aged 39.

True Blood star Nelsan Ellis has passed away, his manager confirms. Emily Gerson Saines told The Hollywood Reporter:

"Nelsan has passed away after complications with heart failure… He was a great talent, and his words and presence will be forever missed."


Nelson’s character, Lafayette Reynolds was a cook at Merlotte’s. In the books the show is based on, his character was killed off, but because fans loved him so much and he made Lafayette such an enjoyable character he was kept on.

HBO released a statement following Nelson’s passing:

"We were extremely saddened to hear of the passing of Nelsan Ellis.”

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."

The creator of the show, Alan Bell also said:

"Nelsan was a singular talent whose creativity never ceased to amaze me. Working with him was a privilege."

Cast members of the show have taken to social media to share their sadness with the world:

Joe Manganiello wrote:

“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. Watching him work was like watching someone channel a spirit. It was mesmerizing. RIP.”

Kristin Bauer wrote:

“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…”

A post shared by Kristin Bauer (@kristinbauer) on

Very sad news this morning, our thoughts are with his family and friends.

Images: HBO and Vera Anderson/WireImage

Written By Marni Dixit