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Nelsan Ellis of 'True Blood' Dead at 39

Nelsan Ellis of 'True Blood' Dead at 39
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Nelsan Ellis, who starred as flamboyant Lafayette Reynolds on HBO's long-running hit "True Blood" from 2008-2014, has died at 39, Variety confirms.

The actor died of complications from heart failure.

Octavia Spencer was the first to confirm Ellis had passed away, posting on Instagram, "Just got word that we lost @nelsanellisofficial. My heart breaks for his kids and family."

In a statement, HBO said, "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 being a stand-out character on "True Blood," Ellis played Martin Luther King Jr. in Lee Daniels' "The Butler" (2012) and James Brown's longtime friend Bobby Byrd in the big-screen biopic "Get On Up" (2014), the latter of which he starred in with Octavia Spencer.