True Blood actor Nelsan Ellis dies aged 39

He played the cook Lafayette Reynolds on the HBO show

The actor Nelsan Ellis, best known for his work on the HBO show True Blood, has died aged 39.

Ellis “passed away after complications with heart failure,” manager Emily Gerson Saines told The Hollywood Reporter. She added, “He was a great talent, and his words and presence will be forever missed.”

In True Blood, Ellis played Lafayette Reynolds, a short order cook at Merlotte’s. HBO said in a statement: “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 True Blood creator Alan Ball has also paid tribute to the actor, calling Ellis a “singular talent whose creativity never ceased to amaze me. Working with him was a privilege.”

Ellis’s other roles included Martin Luther King Jr in The Butler, and long time friend Bobby Byrd in the James Brown biographical drama Get On Up.  

True Blood creator, Alan Ball said: “Nelsan was a singular talent whose creativity never ceased to amaze me. Working with him was a privilege.”

Stars from the entertainment industry have paid tribute to the actor.