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"True Blood" Star Nelsan Ellis Has Died At 39

Ellis played Lafayette Reynolds on the HBO show.

Last updated on July 8, 2017, at 8:24 p.m. ET

Posted on July 8, 2017, at 4:14 p.m. ET

Nelsan Ellis, the actor best known for his role in the vampire fantasy True Blood, has died at age 39.

Evan Agostini / AP

Ellis's manager, Emily Gerson Saines, confirmed the actor's death to BuzzFeed News.

Saines told The Hollywood Reporter that Ellis had died after complications with heart failure.

"He was a great talent, and his words and presence will be forever missed," Saines said.

On HBO's True Blood, Ellis played Lafayette Reynolds, a short-order cook, medium, and vampire blood dealer. The character was killed off in the books but survived all seven seasons of the TV show due to Ellis's popularity.


Ellis as Lafayette Reynolds in True Blood

True Blood creator Alan Ball praised the actor in a statement to BuzzFeed News: "Nelsan was a singular talent whose creativity never ceased to amaze me. Working with him was a privilege."

Ellis was also known for his roles in the movies Get On Up and The Help.

In a statement to BuzzFeed News, HBO said the network was "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," the statement said. "Nelsan will be dearly missed by his fans and all of us at HBO."

Ellis's True Blood co-stars mourned the actor's death.

It was an utter privilege to work with the phenomenally talented and deeply kind soul .@OfficialNelsan I'm devastat…

I don't know if I've ever seen the level of humility and kindness that came with the Magnificent Talent that Nelsan Ellis had. Miss u friend

I am speechless... I am heartbroken... Rest In Peace my friend @OfficialNelsan

Heart is shattered hearing of tragic news of #NelsanEllis passing. Devastated.He possessed such humility & fearless talent. U r deeply loved

I am stunned and heartbroken. Our #TrueBlood family and the world has lost an amazing talent and human being.

Crushed today by the loss of my friend and castmate Nelsan Ellis. He was a wonderful person, a pioneer, and a one o…

So did writers for the show.

.@OfficialNelsan you were pure fucking genius. and all heart. it was an honor to work with you, friend.…

The Help star Octavia Spencer also mourned the actor in an Instagram post.

"Just got word that we lost @nelsanellisofficial. My heart breaks for his kids and family," she wrote.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.