"True Blood" star Nelsan Ellis dead at 39

Posted on: July 10th, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

Getty Images/Ethan Miller

(LOS ANGELES) — Nelsan Ellis, who played Lafayette Reynolds, the flamboyant, take-no-crap short-order cook at Merlotte’s in HBO’s hit series True Blood, died of complications from heart failure in Los Angeles on Saturday, his manager confirmed to ABC News. He was 39.

Besides True Blood, Ellis also appeared in the CW TV series Veronica Mars. He also played Martin Luther King Jr. in Lee Daniels’ The Butler, and had roles in The SoloistThe Help, and the James Brown biopic Get On Up.

Oscar-winner Octavia Spencer, who worked with Ellis on The Help, remembered him on Instagram.

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

True Blood star Anna Paquin tweeted, “It was an utter privilege to work with the phenomenally talented and deeply kind soul. I’m devastated by his untimely death.”

Doubt actor Dulé Hill tweeted, “Shocked & saddened to hear of Nelsan Ellis’ passing. Major fan of this talented actor. Way too young.”

“Heartbroken about @OfficialNelsan . Such a beautiful human being. Man….,” wrote The Haves and Have Nots actress Tika Sumpter on her Twitter page.

Ellis is survived by his grandmother, Alex Brown, his father, Tommie Lee Thompson, and his son, Breon Ellis, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The actor is also survived by seven siblings and his aunt.

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