‘True Blood’ Stars Mourn the Sudden Death of Nelsan Ellis: ‘This Is Just Completely Tragic’

Nelsan Ellis death reactions
Courtesy of HBO

Hollywood was shocked on Saturday when news broke that iconic actor Nelsan Ellis had died at just 39 years old. While the actor had a prolific résumé, his career was undoubtedly defined by his role as Lafayette Reynolds on HBO’s “True Blood.”

Following his death after complications from heart failure, HBO and “True Blood” creator and executive producer Alan Ball each issued statements regarding Ellis’ sudden passing.

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“We were extremely saddened to hear of the passing of Nelsan Ellis,” wrote HBO. “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.”

Ball echoed the network’s sentiments, adding, “Nelsan was a singular talent whose creativity never ceased to amaze me. Working with him was a privilege.”

Once the initial shock of his death wore off, Ellis’ “True Blood” castmates began mourning their friend on social media. Series leads Anna Paquin, Stephen Moyer, Joe Manganiello, and Carrie Preston took to Twitter to voice their heartbreak.

Other “True Blood” actors like Deborah Ann Woll, Michael Raymond-James, and Kristin Bauer van Straten followed suit with similar messages on their personal pages.

However, it wasn’t just former “True Blood” stars who were saddened by the loss of Ellis. Many other actors like Jessica Chastain, Chadwick Boseman, and Sterling K. Brown joined the chorus of voices singing the actor’s prematurely-cut praises.

Celebrating my brother @NelsanEllisOfficial. 4Eva linked like Bobby Byrd and JB. We love u. We miss u. RIP.

A post shared by Chadwick Boseman (@chadwickboseman) on

Additionally, Ellis’ “The Help” costar Octavia Spencer was actually the first person to address his passing on Instagram.

Ellis is survived by his grandmother, his father, and his son, Breon, as well as seven siblings. In lieu of flowers, his family asks that donations be made to Jenesse.org or RestoreMinistriesChurch.org.

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  1. sulin Varnum says:

    As an actor he was amazing… As just being him…. Beyond words…. Full of love full of life…. My heart breaks for those that are left behind…

  2. dizzylucy says:

    Anna Camp and Michelle Forbes also starred on True Blood with him.
    I am so saddened by this, he was such an extraordinary actor, so talented, and by the accounts of those who knew him, a kind and beautiful soul.

  3. Andy says:

    Good night to a great act.

  4. Sarah Lynn Weintraub says:

    A correction: Anna Camp and Michelle Forbes were also on True Blood.

  5. C R Tackett says:

    I’ve been catching up on Elementary and enjoying him on the show and loved him on True Blood, then after watching him last night I wake up to read this. Truly in shock. He was gorgeous and so talented. You can tell by his eyes he was a gentle and intelligent person. He will be missed.

  6. Linda M Burger says:

    Not only gorgeous, but a wonderful actor. To know him for real would have truly been a gift. RIP

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