Nelsan Ellis (Nelsan Ellis)

Nelsan Ellis

In 2007, Nelsan Ellis was cast as Lafayette Reynolds in the pilot for True Blood, as a short order cook at Merlotte’s, a drug dealer, a member of Jason Stackhouse’s road crew, and Tara Thornton’s cousin. The pilot was shot in the early summer of 2007 and was officially ordered to series in August. Production on the series began later that fall. In casting, Alan Ball had concerns that the character’s homosexuality would be a dominating trait, “because you don’t want to bring in someone who’s going to play that in a phony way”. The series premiered on September 7, 2008 and concluded on August 24, 2014, comprising seven seasons and 80 episodes. In 2008, Nelsan Ellis received a Satellite Award from the International Press Academy for best supporting actor in a television series for his role as Lafayette Reynolds’. In 2009, he was nominated for a Scream Award for “Best Supporting Actor” for True Blood. In 2012, Ellis was cast as Martin Luther King, Jr. in a supporting performance in Lee Daniels’ The Butler. The Butler received mostly positive reviews from critics, with a 71% rating on the film critic aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes, based on 171 reviews. On October 21, 2013, Nelsan Ellis joined the cast of Get on Up, a biographical drama film about the life of singer James Brown. He portrayed Bobby Byrd, Brown’s long-time friend. Get on Up was met with positive reviews from critics. In 2014, the film had a rating of 80% on the review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes, based on 150 reviews, with an average rating of 6.8/10. Nelsan Ellis died at the age of 39 on July 8, 2017, in Los Angeles, California, after complications from heart failure. His family released a statement on July 10 saying that Ellis had been trying to quit drinking alcohol in the days before his death, and that alcohol withdrawal syndrome led to his heart failure.

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  • November, 30, 1977
  • USA
  • Harvey, Illinois


  • July, 08, 2017
  • USA
  • Los Angeles, California

Cause of Death

  • complications from heart failure

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