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True Blood Star Nelsan Ellis Has Died At 39

Lafayette in the walk-in in Season 5

While 2016 was extremely difficult in regards to celebrity deaths, this year hasn't been so easy either. We've lost legends old and new, and now a beloved TV star has unfortunately passed away too soon. Actor Nelsan Ellis, who is best known for his starring role in HBO's True Blood, has died at the age of 39.

This shocking news comes to us from The Hollywood Reporter, who reported Nelsan Ellis' tragic death. While details regarding Ellis' health are few and far between, his manager told THR that the late actor died from complications related to heart failure. And considering the young age of the actor, this is sure to be a story that is followed as more details become public.

Nelsan Ellis is best known for portraying Lafayette Reynolds in all seven season of HBO's supernatural drama True Blood. Lafayette is one of the most popular characters from the series, and Ellis received universal praise and adoration for his fearless performance. Lafayette was one of the few queer human characters in the Bon Temps, Louisiana, where the show was primarily set.

While Lafayette originally functioned as a sassy comic relief and cook at Merlotte's, his character was eventually expanded. He had two major relationships in the series, and eventually realized that he was medium, and could make contact with the dead. This allowed him to get into more action in the series, and he even got to have a happy ending in the series finale.

Aside from his work on True Blood, Nelsan Ellis had a variety of film credits as well. He had a small role in The Help as Henry the Waiter. Additionally, he had a major role in the James Brown biopic Get On Up as singer Bobby Byrd. Ellis was also a recurring character on CBS' procedural Elementary, opposite Lucy Liu and Jonny Lee Miller. He appeared in 11 episodes of the series before his death.

Nelsan Ellis' work in True Blood has been praised for the character's unapologetic femininity, which combined with his physical toughness made for a fascinating character study. Lafayette didn't take any homophobic crap from the residents of Bon Temps, and usually combatted any negative experiences with a mixture of humor and badassery. His relationship with his cousin Tara was another positive aspect of his role, and the character was so popular that showrunners decided not to kill him at the end of Season 1- which was the character's fate in the novels.

As a reminder, check out one of Lafayette's most iconic scenes below.

I mean, how can you not love him after that?

Nelsan Ellis' shocking death will no doubt be felt by the many fans who were touched by his performances. Our thoughts are with his loved ones at this time.

Corey was born and raised in New Jersey. Double majored in theater and literature during undergrad. After working in administrative theater for a year in New York, he started as the Weekend Editor at CinemaBend. He's since been able to work himself up to reviews, phoners, and press junkets-- and is now able to appear on camera with some of his famous actors... just not as he would have predicted as a kid.