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Nelsan Ellis Passes Away at 39

Nelsan Ellis (“True Blood”) has just passed away due to complications from heart failure, according to Variety. He was 39 years old.

Ellis was known for key roles in several critically acclaimed films and television series. To name a few, Ellis portrayed Lafayette Reynolds in “True Blood” and Shinwell Johnson in “Elementary.” He also portrayed Bobby Byrd in “Get on Up” and Martin Luther King Jr. in “Lee Daniels’ The Butler.”

Octavia Spencer (“Hidden Figures”) broke the sad news via her Instagram, saying, “Just got word that we lost @nelsanellicofficial. My heart breaks for his kids and family. #RIPNelsanEllis. #brilllantactor (sic) #trueblood #getonup #thesoloist #thehelp.” Spencer had previously worked with Ellis in “The Help.”

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Just got word that we lost @nelsanellisofficial. My heart breaks for his kids and family. #RIPNelsanEllis. #brillIantactor #trueblood #getonup #thesoloist #thehelp. The first time I met him was on the set of the soloist and we were at rehearsal with a lot of the homeless cast members, and Nelsan was playing our counselor. He walked in wearing a pair of fitted camo cargo pants, a pristine white tshirt, a beret, and a denim jacket. Needless to say he was gorgeous, sexy. But his talent had me speechless. We became instant friends after that. He was sooooo funny. I miss him. #nelsanellis

A post shared by Octavia Spencer (@octaviaspencer) on

HBO, which produced “True Blood,” released a statement in remembrance of Ellis. HBO noted his work on the show and called him a member of the “HBO family,” saying:

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.

“True Blood” creator Alan Ball also commended Ellis’ work, saying, “Nelsan was a singular talent whose creativity never ceased to amaze me. Working with him was a privilege.” Remembrances from the rest of the “True Blood” cast, including Joe Maganiello, Sam Trammell, and Kristin Bauer, have continued to pour in, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Ellis is survived by his son, Breon, and seven siblings.

Which was your favorite character that Ellis portrayed? Let us know in the comments below.

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Written by Selina Mixner

Selina is a queer, half-Filipina fangirl who loves TV, film and corgis a little too much. She graduated with a Bachelor's in Literature and Psychology from UC Santa Cruz. Her rules for writing are simple: is it tattoo-worthy? If not, try again.

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