Remembering Nelsan Ellis

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After the news broke yesterday of Nelsan Ellis’ death, the outpouring of grief and sharing of memories began. We shared our sorrow here and thousands of fans expressed theirs and shared memories on Facebook.

Nelsan’s friends and colleagues from True Blood took to social media to remember him as well. We’ve collected a selection of their posts below.

One of the first places we shot on the pilot of True Blood was Sam Merlotte’s Bar. The kitchen Suzuki Ingerslev built in Merlotte’s had a walk in freezer & working gas burners. It remained my favourite set throughout all 7 seasons – when shooting in Louisiana many months later she took us to the actual bar she had used as inspiration. It was almost as amazing as our Merlotte’s, but not quite – They didn’t have a Lafayette. In the scene that was being shot that day, Lafayette, a male cross-dressing short order cook in the show, was expounding on his theory of men’s fear of the female anatomy.. specifically, the vagina. ‘I know every man whether straight, gay or George MotherFuckin’ Bush is afraid of the pussy..’ I’m not sure I have ever seen, before or since, people crowd around a monitor at video village with their hands clapped to their mouths from shock, sheer laughter and wonder as the actor playing Lafayette jiggled and shook and humped the butchers block to get his point across. it was completely original, funny, sardonic, risqué and brilliant. That was Nelsan Ellis. All of the above. I turned to Alan Ball when the scene was finished and whispered… ‘you can’t kill him!’ (Lafayette’s death at the of the first book is the cliffhanger that leads to Book 2… ) Nelsan Ellis was the only actor in the 7 years of True Blood whom Alan allowed to improvise. Actually, I’m going to take that back. It wasn’t that Alan allowed him to do it, it was more that when Nelsan inhabited the world of Lafayette, he quite literally COULDN’T STOP himself. It was like he was possessed. In actuality Nelsan was quiet, smart, thoughtful, warm and kind. A published playwright himself. I think it would be fair to say that he taught all of us that intent and courage and fearlessness and freedom are the aspects of playing make-believe that spark the corners of the room where the dark is most impenetrable; to shine a light on those corners within ourselves is the very reason we go back time and again to Movies, TV shows and Theatre. To see that spark ignited. Nelsan had that electricity in an abundance I have rarely seen. I can’t believe he’s gone. #nelsanellis

A post shared by Steve Moyer (@stephenmoyer) on

If you’d like to share your own stories about Nelsan, please comment below or join us on Facebook. If you would like to celebrate Nelsan’s life, in lieu of flowers his family has asked that donations be made to Restoration Ministries Church of God in Christ and Jenesse Center, a domestic violence and intervention program.

Fan of the Southern Vampire Mysteries since 2001, and co-admin of True-Blood.net since 2008. Team Sookie!

6 Comments

  1. Cathy Andrews

    July 9, 2017 at 10:37 am

    Love you Nelsan “Lafayette” Ellis!!! TRUE BLOOD FANS LOVE YOU

  2. Sunshine

    July 9, 2017 at 10:52 am

    Love You Nelsan “Lafayette” Ellis. God Speed Ahead. Praying for your Family, Friends and Fans. God Bless You!!

  3. Nancy

    July 9, 2017 at 2:09 pm

    So long Lala, you brought a great gift to life. Thank you for giving us 7 years.RIP!

  4. Dennis

    July 9, 2017 at 3:03 pm

    There was a time wheni loved TrueBlood… The premise early on was that vampires were real & they were coming out because of a synthetic blood they could drink. & it was set in the swampy back roads of New Orleans of all places! But like many great ideas it got convoluted by i introducing too many characters, plots, & tried to become too epic in scale… The main characters started to wear on me as the seasons wore on… All buy Lafayette who definitely stole the show & was a great character played by Nelsan Ellis… An underrated & very talented actor. Sucks that he never got the recognition he deserved & sad he’s gone too soon.
    & btw.. He slew in that eyeliner!
    RIP Nelsan Ellis

  5. Penny Kearney

    July 10, 2017 at 1:01 am

    Nelsan Ellis was a talented actor who didn’t mind sharing his many character with the world. Lafayette will also be my favorite character. He’s one of the reasons I watched and collected the entire series. Thank you for your hard work. May you rest in peace.

  6. Shay Thrasher

    July 11, 2017 at 11:01 am

    Sending prayers to his family. He was a phenomenal actor who made it look so easy.True Blood was an immediate favorite of mine and I LOVED the whole cast of characters. Nelson made LAFAYETTE into the AWESOME CHARACTER. Such a sad time.

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