‘True Blood’ Star Nelsan Ellis, Who Played Lafayette, Dies at 39

Nelsan Ellis, best known as Lafayette on True Blood, has died from complications of heart failure at 39. Ellis’ character, arguably one of the best parts of the HBO vampire series, was a short order cook at the fictional bar Merlotte’s. The actor based many of Lafayette’s quirks and mannerisms on his own mother and sister. Ellis also starred as Martin Luther King, Jr. in Lee Daniels’ The Butler and portrayed Bobby Byrd, the longtime friend of singer James Brown, in the film Get on Up. During his time at Juilliard, he wrote the semi-autobiographical play Ugly, about his pregnant sister’s murder by her husband. True Blood creator Alan Ball said in a statement: “Nelsan was a singular talent whose creativity never ceased to amaze me.”