×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Nelsan Ellis’ Family Shares Details About ‘True Blood’ Star’s Cause of Death

Nelsan Ellis, known for playing Lafayette Reynolds on HBO’s “True Blood,” died on Saturday of heart failure related to alcohol withdrawal, according to a statement released by his family on Monday. The actor was 39.

According to the family’s statement, Ellis had attempted to withdraw from alcohol on his own, but had a blood infection that caused his kidneys to “shut down,” his liver to swell, and his blood pressure to drop.

Ellis had “suffered with drug and alcohol abuse for years,” according to the statement. But he was “ashamed of his addiction and thus was reluctant to talk about it during his life.” The family hopes his life can “serve as a cautionary tale in an attempt to help others.”

Ellis was born in Harvey, Ill., and moved to Alabama during his childhood before returning to Chicago. He received his B.F.A. from Juilliard, and appeared on “True Blood” between 2008 and 2014.

At Ellis’ time of death, 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.”

Read the full statement from Ellis’ family, released to Variety through his manager Emily Gerson Saines, below:

Nelsan’s father has bravely agreed for me to share the circumstances of Nelsan’s heart failure. Nelsan has suffered with drug and alcohol abuse for years. After many stints in rehab, Nelsan attempted to withdraw from alcohol on his own. According to his father, during his withdrawal from alcohol he had a blood infection, his kidneys shut down, his liver was swollen, his blood pressure plummeted, and his dear sweet heart raced out of control.

On the morning of Saturday July 8th, after four days in Woodhull Hospital, Nelsan was pronounced dead. Nelsan was a gentle, generous, and kind soul. He was a father, a son, a grandson, a brother, a nephew, and a great friend to those that were lucky enough to know him. Nelsan was ashamed of his addiction and thus was reluctant to talk about it during his life. His family, however, believes that in death he would want his life to serve as a cautionary tale in an attempt to help others.

More TV

  • PMKBNC

    PMK-BNC Executive Joy Fehily Resigns, Will Consult and Manage Seth MacFarlane (EXCLUSIVE)

    Top Hollywood publicist and executive Joy Fehily has resigned from her post at public relations firm PMK-BNC, individuals familiar with the move told Variety. Fehily steps down in the midst of a five-year deal with the show business institution, insiders said, which reps A-list actors and below-the-line talent as well as huge brands like American [...]

  • Schitt's Creek Wigs

    'Schitt's Creek': Inside Moira Rose's Iconic Wig Collection

    Moira Rose, the family matriarch of cult classic “Schitt’s Creek,” is known for several things: her pronunciation of the word “bebe,” her love for her TV family (and sometimes Alexis) and her countless vibrant wigs. Played by the always delightful Catherine O’Hara, each episode (and wig) is a joy to witness on screen. “I think [...]

  • Brandon Flynn

    Brandon Flynn on Hollywood Double Standards and Never Actually Coming Out

    Brandon Flynn has a flourishing Hollywood career. The 25-year-old quickly shot to social media superstardom on Netflix’s hit “13 Reasons Why” with millions of devoted followers and, shortly after, was cast on HBO’s “True Detective.” And yet, the rising star has received just as much attention for his personal life as his professional career. In [...]

  • Tyler Perry

    Tyler Perry Sets White House Drama 'The Oval' at BET

    Tyler Perry has scored a straight-to-series order at BET for a drama set at the White House, Variety has confirmed. The series, titled “The Oval,” will introduce viewers to the new first family moving into the White House. Ed Quinn will star as President Hunter Franklin, while Kron Moore will play First Lady Victoria Franklin. The [...]

  • Kira Kelly Cinematographer Queen Sugar

    'Queen Sugar' DP on How Ava DuVernay Encourages Creativity on the OWN Series

    Cinematographer Kira Kelly, who earned an Emmy nomination for her work on Ava DuVernay’s “13th,” feels that her time spent on nonfiction projects over the past two decades has improved her ability to cope with the demands of shooting narrative fare.  The scaled-down resources — often just Kelly and maybe a focus puller or a [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content