Nelsan Ellis, ‘True Blood’ and ‘Elementary’ Actor, Dies at 39

“Nelsan will be dearly missed by his fans and all of us at HBO,” network says

Last Updated: July 8, 2017 @ 2:56 PM

Nelsan Ellis, known for his role as medium Lafayette Reynolds on HBO’s “True Blood,” has died at age 39.

His manager confirmed his passing to TheWrap and said that he died following complications from heart failure.

HBO said in a statement on Saturday that the network’s team is “extremely saddened” by the news.

“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,'” the statement read. “Nelsan will be dearly missed by his fans and all of us at HBO.”

Ellis played Lafayette on Alan Ball’s vampire series throughout its seven-season run that ended in August 2014.

The actor also appeared on CBS’ “Elementary” in the recurring role of Shinwell Johnson. His film appearances included parts in “The Soloist” (2009), “The Help” (2011), “Lee Daniels’ The Butler” (2013) and “Get on Up” (2014).

Octavia Spencer, his co-star on “The Soloist,” “The Help” and “Get on Up,” expressed her grief on Instagram on Saturday, saying her “heart breaks.”

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