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Remembering Nelsan Ellis and the quintessential Lafayette scene from True Blood

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Lafayette was truly special. Bon Temps’ resident medium and fry cook, played by the late Nelsan Ellis, was often both the comic relief and the source of much of True Blood‘s heartbreak over the course of seven seasons on HBO. He was the lifeblood of the vampire series, and he was also a gay character that TV had never seen before: By turns flamboyant and masculine, he didn’t adhere to any stereotypes or expectations.

One of Lafayette’s most memorable moments of the series occurred during season 1 when he confronted three bigots in Merlotte’s Bar & Grill. The quick scene is a near-perfect encapsulation of Ellis’ performance and the character: funny and bold but tinged with sadness. Lafayette won’t back down from a fight but he’s also used to having to defend himself from small-town prejudice.

Watch the clip here:

The sudden death of Ellis on Saturday, June 8, is both a devastating blow to Blood fans and the entertainment industry. Having met him at several Comic-Cons over the years, Ellis was clearly very different from the loud and proud Lafayette: he was quiet and sensitive and sweet with a warm smile. He was a man of few words but always kind and thoughtful. He will be missed.