Although the quality of HBO’s True Blood declined in later seasons, one constant was always Nelsan Ellis’ performance as the feisty short-order cook Lafayette Reynolds. He was so popular with fans that, unlike the Charlene Harris books that the show was based on, his character survived through the series’ entirety. The literary version of the character never makes it past Harris’ second novel, but Ellis’ Lafayette became an integral part of the show, as one of the main confidants of Sookie Stackhouse and a loyal cousin to Sookie’s best friend Tara.
According to Variety, “True Blood creator and executive producer Alan Ball echoed HBO’s epitaph in a statement of his own. “Nelsan was a singular talent whose creativity never ceased to amaze me,” and that “Working with him was a privilege.”
Ellis is survived by his grandmother, his father, and his son, Breon, as well as seven siblings.