Nelsan Ellis, the actor who lit up the screen on HBO's vampire drama "True Blood," has died at age 39.
The cause of death was complications from heart failure, his manager, Emily Gerson Saines, told CNN.
Ellis had roles in several movies during his career, including "Get on Up," "Lee Daniels' The Butler" and "The Help." But he was best known for his performance on "True Blood" as Lafayette, a cook and medium whose tell-it-like-it-is attitude made him a favorite among the television show's fans.
HBO said in a statement Saturday that it was "extremely saddened" to hear of his passing.
"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," the statement read. HBO, like CNN, is owned by Time Warner.
"True Blood" creator Alan Ball added: "Nelsan was a singular talent whose creativity never ceased to amaze me. Working with him was a privilege."
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