While weekends used to be the time that True Blood fans couldn't wait for back in the day, this past weekend brought about the sad news that the show's former star Nelsan Ellis died at the age of 39. Considering the actor had no obvious illnesses or openly discussed health issues, the news came as a shock to Ellis' family, friends and former co-stars. Now, Ellis' family has agreed to go public with the news that his death was caused by heart failure, due to alcohol withdrawal complications. According to a statement provided by Ellis' agent:
Nelsan's father has bravely agreed for me to share the circumstances of Nelsan's heart failure. Nelsan has suffered with drug and alcohol abuse for years. After many stints in rehab, Nelsan attempted to withdraw from alcohol on his own. According to his father, during his withdrawal from alcohol he had a blood infection, his kidneys shut down, his liver was swollen, his blood pressure plummeted, and his dear sweet heart raced out of control. On the morning of Saturday July 8th, after four days in Woodhull Hospital, Nelsan was pronounced dead.
That is definitely not the kind of story that anyone wants to hear about a beloved celeb whose warm smiles always made it seem like he was on top of the world. Nelsan Ellis got his big break with 2005's Fox drama The Inside, but he rocketed to the upper echelon of fan favorite TV stars in 2008 when True Blood first hit HBO. He was so good that the creative team changed up author Charlaine Harris' source material so that his Lafayette Reynolds could survive beyond his novelized death. And that was easily one of that show's best decisions.
Of course, the character of Lafayette suffered from his own addictions and abuse problems, and even though the show's drug "V" isn't real, Nelsan Ellis still had to adapt to the addictive mindset and behavior, which couldn't have been easy on him if he was dealing with those issues in his daily life. The best way to keep someone from swimming, after all, is to keep them out of the water.
Nelsan Ellis apparently did not want people to know about his addictions or his alcoholism, and the repeated stints in rehab possibly inspired the actor to go about conquering his demons on his own, away from anyone else's guidance and/or judgement. Unfortunately, the situation was such that going cold turkey only exacerbated his failing health problems, and he died while attempting to clean up his act.
By sharing his story, the family of Nelsan Ellis wants to shine a spotlight on the issue of addiction to show people that seeking out help is never something to be embarrassed about. Here's what else Ellis' agent had to say in the statement, according to THR.
Nelsan was ashamed of his addiction and thus was reluctant to talk about it during his life. His family, however, believes that in death he would want his life to serve as a cautionary tale in an attempt to help others.
In the entertainment world, substance abuse and addiction runs rampant, since fame allows for easy access to just about anything under the sun, and it must be extremely difficult to walk away from that life on one's own willpower and personal strength. Sadly, drugs and alcohol have been involved with the early deaths of many a great celebrity, since walking away is not something everyone is able to go through with.
We here at CinemaBlend continue to send our thoughts and condolences to the family and friends of Nelsan Ellis as they deal with these mournful circumstances. Hopefully the family's decision to be transparent about Ellis' death will provide enough of a cautionary warning for others out there who may not see any clear ways to free themselves of addiction.