Actor Nelsan Ellis gained a cult-like following thanks to his tremendously popular character, Lafayette, on HBO’s “True Blood.” But now his fans and co-stars are in mourning.

Ellis, who played a flamboyant short-order cook on the HBO hit for seven seasons, died at the age of 39 Saturday as a result of heart failure.


The HBO star’s manager, Emily Gerson Saines, confirmed the sad news to The Hollywood Reporter. She said:

“Nelsan has passed away after complications with heart failure. He was a great talent, and his words and presence will be forever missed.”

It’s unclear what condition lead to the popular actor’s premature death, but fans and co-stars alike have been expressing their sympathy on social media.

Many of the actors Ellis worked with on “True Blood” have shared their remembrances. Co-star Anna Paquin said that she was “devastated” by the loss:

Devin Alejandro, who played Jesús Velásquez on the series, wrote:

“Pitch Perfect” star Anna Camp, who got her big break on the series, said that she was “broken” when she heard the news:

Sam Trammell said that he would miss his close friend:

Co-star Joe Manganiello shared a photo alongside the talented actor:

Stephen Moyer called the death “completely tragic”:

HBO released the following statement about the actor’s sudden death:

“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.”

Ellis is survived by his wife and young son, Breon.

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