Nelsan Ellis, who was best known for his portrayal of Lafayette Reynolds on HBO’s True Blood, has passed away at the age of 39 due to complications from heart failure. The heartbreaking news came early on July 8, when Ellis’s manager, Emily Gerson Saines, issued the following statement to The Hollywood Reporter:
"Nelsan has passed away after complications with heart failure. He was a great talent, and his words and presence will be forever missed."
Update: On July 10th, Emily Gerson Saines provided the details surrounding the death of Nelsan Ellis to The Hollywood Reporter at the behest of Nelsan's Father, Tommie Lee Thompson. The surviving family of Nelsan Ellis decided to share these details as a way to spread awareness of the disease of addiction, and to hopefully help others who are suffering. The statement is as follows:
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.
In response to Nelsan’s passing, HBO issued their own statement, that highlights how beloved the actor was both on and off the set:
"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."
Nelsan Ellis's True Blood Co-Stars Honor His Memory On Social Media
#NelsanEllis was a prolific actor with roles in The Soloist, The Help, Elementary, and Get On Up, but his role as Lafayette on #TrueBlood endeared him to an entire generation of fans. Ellis’s role as Lafayette was his first major role after he graduated from Julliard, and he quickly became the breakout star among a cast of truly incredible performers.
Ellis conveyed a strength of spirit through Lafayette on True Blood, which audiences connected with almost instantly. However, fans weren’t the only people that Ellis made an impression on, and he was considered family by his co-stars on True Blood. In remembrance of their friend, the cast of True Blood took to social media to share the impact Ellis had on their lives:
Celebrities Honor Nelsan Ellis's Legacy
The overwhelming amount of love and fond memories that Ellis’s True Blood co-stars shared shows just how beloved he was. Although Ellis spent seven years on True Blood, his career spanned 15 years, and he made a lasting impression on almost everyone he met. Those who came to know Ellis throughout his career shared their memories of the late actor on social media, which showed just how wonderful he was as a person:
The words and thoughts shared by those that knew Ellis are touching, and though he was taken from the world so young, his memory will live on through those he inspired. As a performer, Ellis touched millions around the world, and his ability to connect with audiences was incredibly unique.
Nelsan Ellis is survived by his grandmother Alex Brown, his father Tommie Lee Thompson, and his son Breon Ellis. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Nelsan Ellis’s family, and we give our deepest condolences.
Which Nelsan Ellis role is your favorite? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
(Source: The Hollywood Reporter)