'True Blood' star Nelsan Ellis dies at 39

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Nelsan Ellis, the beloved actor known for his role in the hit series "True Blood," has died, his manager said. He was 39. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP))

Nelsan Ellis, the beloved actor known for his role in the hit HBO series "True Blood," has died, his manager told ABC7 on Saturday. He was 39.

"Nelsan has passed away after complications with heart failure," his manager, Emily Gerson Saines, told the Hollywood Reporter. "He was a great talent, and his words and presence will be forever missed."

Anna Paquin, who played Sookie Stackhouse in "True Blood," said it was a privilege to work with Ellis.


HBO also released a statement regarding Ellis.

"We were extremely saddened to hear of the passing of Nelsan Ellis. 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."

In addition to portraying Lafayette Reynolds on "True Blood," Ellis also appeared in "Veronica Mars," "The Soloist," "The Help" and "Lee Daniels' The Butler."

News of the actor's death was met with an outpouring of condolences by colleagues and fans on social media.

"Crushed today by the loss of my friend and castmate Nelsan Ellis," Joe Manganiello, who played werewolf Alcide on "True Blood," wrote on Twitter. "He was a wonderful person, a pioneer, and a one of a kind artist. RIP"


"My God, such a beautiful soul and talented artist," Gabrielle Union tweeted. "Blown. Away. #RIP"


Ellis was born Nov. 30, 1977 in Harvey, Illinois. After a short stint in the U.S. Marines, which he quit at age 17, Ellis enrolled at the Juilliard School in New York. He graduated in 2004.

ABC News contributed to this report.

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