Ellis was an accomplished actor known for his performances in a wide array of different feature films, though his signature role was playing Lafayette Reynolds on the aforementioned HBO show. He was vivacious, sassy, heartfelt at times, and hilarious at others. He was one of the strongest characters on the entire series and there was nothing more that we wanted than seeing him find happiness.
Now, we hope that in life Nelsan has found peace. In a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, his manager Emily Gerson Saines passed along the following:
“Nelsan has passed away after complications with heart failure. He was a great talent, and his words and presence will be forever missed.”
In addition to this, many within the True Blood family have also released some statements, including the ones that you see at the bottom of this article from Anna Paquin, Stephen Moyer, Sam Trammell, and many others. The following was also released from True Blood creator Alan Ball:
“Nelsan was a singular talent whose creativity never ceased to amaze me. Working with him was a privilege.”
Meanwhile, HBO had the following to say to go along with it:
“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.”
If you want to remember some of Ellis’ best work on True Blood, go back to the early seasons where the show had most of his magic and he was a revelation in almost every scene. The amount of love and compassion that he had for other people made him stand out on a show that was often otherwise about chaos, passion, death, and destruction.
For some of his more-recent work, take a look at his appearance as Shinwell Johnson on this past season of Elementary. The character was an ex-con and a guy with a history with Joan Watson who found himself struggling to get accustomed to everyday life once more. Shinwell was killed off near the end of the fifth season, which is all the more morose when you think about the tragic real-life circumstances that have befallen the actor.
While we didn’t know Nelsan, every single thing that we heard about him suggested that he was a kind, generous man, and the sort who made everyone around him better. He will be missed dearly. (Photo: HBO.)