‘True Blood’ star Nelsan Ellis dies at 39

HOLLYWOOD - JUNE 08: Actor Nelsan Ellis arrives at the premiere of HBO's "True Blood" Season 3 at The Cinerama Dome on June 8, 2010 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images)

NEW YORK — Actor Nelsan Ellis, best known for playing the character of Lafayette Reynolds on “True Blood,” has died at the age of 39.

Ellis’ manager Emily Gerson Saines confirmed the actor’s death in an email Saturday. The Hollywood Reporter, which was first to report Ellis’ death, quoted her as saying the actor died from complications of heart failure.

Ellis was born in Harvey, IL, and after moving away from the state, returned to attend Thornridge High School in Dolton, IL. He went on to study at Columbia College Chicago before eventually training as an actor at the famed Julliard School, according to the Chicago Tribune. Nelsan shared his feelings about the end of “True Blood” during a visit to WGN in 2014.

Ellis played the role of Lafayette on the HBO drama from 2008 to 2014, and more recently appeared in the CBS detective series "Elementary." He was also a playwright and a director.

Ellis also appeared as Martin Luther King, Jr. in Lee Daniels' "The Butler," and his film resume also included "The Help" and the James Brown biopic "Get On Up."

“We were extremely saddened to hear of the passing of Nelsan Ellis,” HBO said in a statement, Variety reports.

Octavia Spencer, Ellis' costar in the film "The Help," broke the news of his death on Instagram Saturday morning.

“Just got word that we lost @nelsanellisofficial. My heart breaks for his kids and family,” Spencer said.

 

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