Sad news in Hollywood today, as the passing of actor Nelsan Ellis is announced. The actor was only 39, but had a long history of heart disorders, according to family members. Ellis played the role of Lafayette Reynolds in the HBO series ‘True Blood’ from 2008 until 2014. Ellis was originally from Illinois. He graduated from the renowned Julliard School in New York City with a degree in Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2004. Ellis was cast as the gay cook Lafayette Reynolds in the hit HBO series ‘True Blood’ Ellis has said it took him a few episodes to fine tune the character. He said he based the character’s mannerisms on his mother and sister.
The series ran for 8 years and earned Ellis a ‘Satellite Award’ for excellence in an acting series. In 2009 he was nominated for best supporting actor in a dramatic series. In 2012 Ellis played the role of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. in the highly acclaimed Lee Daniels film ‘The Butler.’ In 2013 Ellis was cast in the bio flick about James Brown called ‘Get on Up’. Ellis played the best friend of the singer, Bobby Byrd. After the death of Ellis was announced, HBO released an official statement. The statement read in part, “We are 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 all of his fans and all of us at HBO.” Alan Ball who created ‘True Blood’ said, “Nelsan was singular talent whose creativity never ceases to amaze me. Working with him was a privilege.” Academy award winning actress Octavia Spencer said “Just got word that we lost Nelsan Ellis, my heart breaks for his kids and family.” Ellis died Saturday in his Los Angeles home.