"We were extremely saddened to hear of the passing of Nelsan Ellis," HBO said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter. "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."
"Nelsan was a singular talent whose creativity never ceased to amaze me," added True Blood creator, Alan Ball. "Working with him was a privilege."
Ellis starred as Lafayette on True Blood from 2008 to 2014. His character was killed off in the books, but Ellis' portrayal of Lafayette was so beloved that the character survived the HBO series.
Outside of True Blood, Ellis appeared in films and TV shows like The Soloist, The Butler, Get On Up and Elementary.
Ellis is survived by his grandmother, Alex Brow, his father, Tommie Lee Thompson, and his son, Breon Ellis.