Nelsan Ellis’ True Blood family is particularly shaken by news of the actor’s death. Stephen Moyer, Anna Paquin, Deborah Ann Woll, Joe Manganiello, Kristin Bauer van Straten, and more shared their reactions on social media after Ellis died from heart failure, which his manager Emily Gerson Saines confirmed to EW Saturday. He was 39.
Paquin led the cast of True Blood as Sookie Stackhouse and shared numerous scenes with Ellis’ Lafayette. “It was an utter privilege to work with the phenomenally talented and deeply kind soul .@OfficialNelsan,” she tweeted. “I’m devastated by his untimely death.”
GALLERY: Nelsan Ellis’ Life in Photos
“Nelsan Ellis was truly remarkable,” Moyer wrote. “A brilliant, charismatic, intelligent, soulful, wonderful dude. This is just completely tragic.”
Woll, who played Jessica on the HBO vampire drama, called the news “heartbreaking.”
“Stunned, devastated by the terrible news of @OfficialNelsan’s passing,” Michael McMillian, the actor behind Steve Newlin, tweeted. “Nelsan was a genius and a beautiful soul. Sending love to his family.”
Manganiello and Bauer, another two longtime members of the cast, penned more heartfelt statements about Ellis on Instagram. “Crushed today by the loss of my friend and castmate Nelsan Ellis. He was a wonderful person, a pioneer, and a one of a kind artist. Watching him work was like watching someone channel a spirit. It was mesmerizing. RIP,” the man behind werewolf Alcide wrote.
Sam Trammell, Anna Camp, Lauren Bowles, Todd Lowe, Aisha Hinds, and Michael Raymond-James were among the other True Blood cast members sharing memories about their fallen friend.
Kevin Alejandro played Jesus, Lafayette’s supernaturally charged brujo boyfriend, on True Blood. He shared a still of one of their sweet on-screen moments, writing, “I am speechless… I am heartbroken… Rest In Peace my friend.”
“I don’t know if I’ve ever seen the level of humility and kindness that came with the Magnificent Talent that Nelsan Ellis had,” tweeted Trammell, who played Sam Merlotte, boss of Lafayette.
“This DEVASTATING news about @OfficialNelsan just EMPTIED me,” Hinds wrote. “His passing is hard to process right now… So. Gifted.”
Anthony Hemingway, who directed episodes of True Blood, called Ellis a “dear friend, brother, amazing talent, loving father & family man.” Writer Elisabeth Finch, who penned episodes of seasons 2 and 3, recalls him being a “pure f—ing genius.”
True Blood author Charlaine Harris tweeted briefly about her “shock.” She added on Instagram, “Such a great talent gone far too soon.”
HBO and series creator Alan Ball released statements shortly after the news became public. “Nelsan was a singular talent whose creativity never ceased to amaze me. Working with him was a privilege,” Ball said.
“We were extremely saddened to hear of the passing of Nelsan Ellis,” HBO’s statement read. “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.”
One of Ellis’ final performances was an extended arc on the fifth season of CBS’ Elementary. The show released an official statement and executive producers Rob Doherty and Carl Beverly said Ellis “will always be a treasured member of the Elementary family” in a Twitter post.
Chadwick Boseman, who costarred with Ellis in the 2014 James Brown biopic Get on Up opted to “celebrate” Ellis with photos from their film together.
See more reactions from celebrities below.
Just got word that we lost @nelsanellisofficial. My heart breaks for his kids and family. #RIPNelsanEllis. #brillIantactor #trueblood #getonup #thesoloist #thehelp. The first time I met him was on the set of the soloist and we were at rehearsal with a lot of the homeless cast members, and Nelsan was playing our counselor. He walked in wearing a pair of fitted camo cargo pants, a pristine white tshirt, a beret, and a denim jacket. Needless to say he was gorgeous, sexy. But his talent had me speechless. We became instant friends after that. He was sooooo funny. I miss him. #nelsanellis