Elementary actor Nelsan Ellis has died. The former True Blood star was just 39 years old. The news was confirmed by his manager, Emily Gerson Saines.
“Nelsan passed away after complications with heart failure. He was a great talent. And his words and presence will be forever missed,” Saines said in a statement, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Ellis was notoriously private when it came to his personal life. Since he played a gay character on the popular vampire fantasy series True Blood, fans have speculated about the actor’s sexuality. In past interviews, Ellis had been asked about this speculation and, back in 2010, Vibe caught up with him and he addressed the topic.
“I don’t answer that question, ‘Are you gay or not,’ when it comes down to industry people. But if it’s a regular person asking me, that just says that maybe I’m doing a good job. But when a casting director or an agent asks me that question it takes on a deeper thing that says, ‘I can’t believe you’re doing this unless you are that,'” Ellis told Vibe.
In short, Ellis was not gay. In fact, he had a wife, according to WetPaint. However, Ellis almost never discussed his home life publicly and his wife’s name isn’t easily found on the internet.
Ellis was a proud papa to his one son, Breon Ellis. Back in April, Ellis tweeted the following photo of his “little man.” It was one of very few that he shared with fans on social media.
He also shared this photo of his son back in December. He was a very proud father, which was clear in his social media posts.
Ellis is also survived by his grandmother, his father, and seven siblings.
HBO released the following statement after hearing of Ellis’ passing.
“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.”