This past weekend brought sad news and a tragic loss for all of Hollywood. “True Blood” star, Nelsan Ellis, passed away Saturday, July 8th due to complications stemming from Heart failure at the age of 39. Mostly known for his scene stealing character, Lafayette, in the HBO hit series, “True Blood,” Ellis broke barriers for African American actors and LGBT character in television.
Following his passing, the network released a statement in memory of Ellis and his contributions. In part, the statement reads:
“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 his longstanding career in TV, Nelsan’s illustrious Juliard background and other work in films like “The Help”, “The Butler,” and the James Brown biopic, “Get On Up,” have solidified him as one of Hollywood’s elite. Ellis is survived by his father, Tommie Lee Thompson and his son, Breon Ellis. Recently, Ellis’ family released an official statement regarding his death which shed new light on his untimely passing. It was initially reported that Nelsan had passed due to complications with heart failure, but his family has now revealed that those complications stemmed from Ellis’ past struggles with alcoholism.
Here’s the scoop, according to our pals at TheHollywoodReporter:
Nelsan’s father has bravely agreed for me to share the circumstances of Nelsan’s heart failure. Nelsan has suffered with drug and alcohol abuse for years. After many stints in rehab, Nelsan attempted to withdraw from alcohol on his own. According to his father, during his withdrawal from alcohol he had a blood infection, his kidneys shut down, his liver was swollen, his blood pressure plummeted, and his dear sweet heart raced out of control.
On the morning of Saturday July 8th, after four days in Woodhull Hospital, Nelsan was pronounced dead. Nelsan was a gentle, generous and kind soul. He was a father, a son, a grandson, a brother, a nephew, and a great friend to those that were lucky enough to know him. Nelsan was ashamed of his addiction and thus was reluctant to talk about it during his life. His family, however, believes that in death he would want his life to serve as a cautionary tale in an attempt to help others.
We can only hope that his death won’t in vain and that the sharing of his story can touch and help others, as rightfully intended. Our prayers are with his family and loved ones.