Home » TRUE BLOOD’s Nelsan Ellis Dead At 39

TRUE BLOOD’s Nelsan Ellis Dead At 39

by Jef Dinsmore
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We know that we are late to the funeral, but even this news can’t be scrapped a week or so later. We too, acknowledge the passing of Nelsan Ellis at the age of 39. Here is a IMDb  bio:

Nelsan Ellis (born c. 1978) is an award-winning American film and television actor and playwright, perhaps best known as Lafayette Reynolds on HBO’s True Blood (2008). Ellis was born in Harvey, Illinois. Following his parents’ divorce, Ellis and his mother moved to Alabama. He moved back to Illinois as a teenager, and graduated from Thornridge High School in Dolton, Illinois, in 1997. Ellis attended Juilliard and, while there, wrote a semi-autobiographical play titled Ugly that was performed at the school and later won the Lincoln Center’s Martin E. Segal Award. Ellis won a 2008 Satellite Award from the International Press Academy for best supporting actor in a television series for his role as Lafayette Reynolds in HBO’s True Blood. Ellis won the “Brink of Fame: Actor” award at the 2009 NewNowNext Awards.

We around here, of course, knew him as Lafayette from TRUE BLOOD. HBO lists him as the “the fast-talking, flamboyant and fabulous cook at Merlotte’s.” He was also a drug dealer, often pushing powerful vampire blood. Eric Northman even captured and tortured him for it too. He tries to keep it all together in his cool little way and eventually falls in love with Jesus. He turns out to be a male witch, though and the relationship turns dicey. Through that union Lafayette learns that he can communicate with the dead – he is a medium. He later confronts an evil witch named Marnie and ends up possessed by her and through him she kills Jesus. Our boy Lafayette hated messing with all the weird stuff. He just wanted to be his spirited ole self.

People liked him for it and cast/crew of TRUE BLOOD appreciated Nelsan for it as well:



  • Alan Ball, Creator – “Nelsan was a singular talent whose creativity never ceased to amaze me. Working with him was a privilege.”


  • Kristin Bauer van Straten (“Pam De Beaufort”) -“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.


  • Anna Camp (“Sarah Newlin”) – “My heart is broken today over the loss of @OfficialNelsan I was in complete awe of your talent and so honored to have known your kindness.”
  • Todd Lowe (“Terry Bellefleur”) – “So blessed to share the screen with you, you beautiful man.”


  • Joe Manganiello (“Alcide Herveaux”) – “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”


  • Stephen Moyer (“Bill Compton”) – “I think it would be fair to say that [Nelsan Ellis] taught all of us that intent and courage and fearlessness and freedom are the aspects of playing make-believe that spark the corners of the room where the dark is most impenetrable.”


  • Denis O’Hare (“Russell Edgington”) – “Very disturbed and sad that Nelsan Ellis has died. Such a huge talent. Such a wonderful man. The world is a poorer place today…”


  • Jim Parrack (“Hoyt Fortenberry”) – “My brother and a piece of my heart is gone from here … but just gone on. @OfficialNelsan thank you for sharing your life sweet angel.”


  • Anna Paquin (“Sookie Stackhouse”) – “It was an utter privilege to work with the phenomenally talented and deeply kind soul.@OfficialNelsan I’m devastated by his untimely death.”


  • Sam Trammell (“Sam Merlotte”) – “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.”


  • Deborah Ann Woll (“Jessica Hamby”) – “My heart is broken by the passing of Nelsan Ellis. A truly beautiful person. My love to his family and friends.


There are a plenty of Lafayette snippets we could show in closing but I have to concur with this post that AIDS BURGER is one of the best! (they better not delete this video)

Better late than never with HBOWatch condolences. RIP.

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