“True Blood” Actor Nelsan Ellis Dies At Age 39

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Ellis, who starred in popular HBO show True Blood as Lafayette Reynolds, died suddenly

Nelsan Ellis played the role of Lafayette Reynolds, a short order cook at Merlotte’s, on True Blood. Although Reynolds was actually killed off in the books, he continued to survive on the show due to his popularity as a character.

Manager Emily Gerson Saines was saddened to inform Ellis’ legion of fans that he had passed away on July 8th.

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

Ellis was born in Harvey, Illinois, attending high-school there and then later going to Oxford University and Columbia College in Chicago. He eventually graduated from famous academy of the arts Julliard School.

Ellis is survived by his son, father, aunt, and grandmother as well as his siblings: four sisters and three brothers.

Fans, co-stars, and family devastated by Nelsan’s passing

HBO made a statement following the news of Nelsan’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 True Blood said of Nelsan: “Nelsan was a singular talent whose creativity never ceased to amaze me. Working with him was a privilege.”

Tributes and memorials to the star from his cast-mates also poured out across social media.

Joe Manganiello tweeted: “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”.

Michelle Forbes also took to Twitter, writing: “Heart is shattered hearing of tragic news of #NelsanEllis passing. Devastated. He possessed such humility & fearless talent. U r deeply loved”.