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True Blood's Nelsan Ellis Has Passed Away

True Blood's Nelsan Ellis Has Passed Away

True Blood's Nelson Ellis Has Passed Away
Photography: Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

The HBO star has died at 39 due to complications with heart failure.

Nelson Ellis, the actor best known for his role as Lafayette Reynolds on HBO's True Blood, has died at age 39.

Ellis' manager, Emily Gerson Saines, confirmed the news to The Hollywood Reporter on Saturday. "Nelsan has passed away after complications with heart failure," she said. "He was a great talent, and his words and presence will be forever missed."

Ellis was beloved as True Blood's sassy queer fry cook/medium Lafayette, a character who was meant to perish at the end of the show's first season. Ellis' take on the character was so well received that he survived numerous supernatural attacks all the way through the show's finale in 2014. "We were extremely saddened to hear of the passing of Nelsan Ellis," HBO said in a statement. "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."

True Blood creator Alan Ball also released a statement, adding that "Nelsan was a singular talent whose creativity never ceased to amaze me."

On a show known more for it's gratuitous nudity and bloody sex scenes, Ellis was easily the most talented actor, and brought serious heart and charisma to what could have been a one-note character, making Lafayette one of TV's most iconic gay men.

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