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

Variety logo Variety 7/8/2017 JD Knapp

Hollywood was shocked on Saturday when news broke that iconic actor Nelsan Ellis had passed away 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.

“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.

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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