True Blood Star Nelsan Ellis Dead At 39

Nelsan Ellis, best known for playing Lafayette Reynolds in HBO's True Blood, has died, according to The Hollywood Reporter. 

"Nelsan has passed away after complications with heart failure," Ellis' manager said in a statement to THR. "He was a great talent, and his words and presence will be forever missed."

Ellis was just 39 years old.

A graduate of Juilliard School, Ellis starred in several notable projects, including the TV show Elementary and the films The Soloist, The Help and Get On Up.

Ellis' The Help co-star Octavia Spencer was reportedly the first to break the news of his death. Sharing a photo of Ellis on Instagram, Spencer wrote, "Just got word that we lost @nelsanellisofficial. My heart breaks for his kids and family. #RIPNelsanEllis."

HBO released a statement regarding the actor's death (via THR). "We were extremely saddened to hear of the passing of Nelsan Ellis," the network said. "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. Nelsan will be dearly missed by his fans and all of us at HBO."

True Blood creator Alan Ball also commented on Ellis' passing, stating, "Nelsan was a singular talent whose creativity never ceased to amaze me. Working with him was a privilege."

Ellis is survived by a large family, including his grandmother, father, son, and seven siblings. THR reports that the family has asked, in lieu of flowers, that donations be made to the Jenesse Center or The Restoration Ministries Church of God and Christ.