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True Blood stars pay tribute after sudden death of Nelsan Ellis

Nelsan Ellis, who played Lafayette on True Blood, has died at the age of 39.

The actor passed away from complications of heart failure after a battle with alcoholism on Saturday, and his former co-stars were quick to pay tribute.

Stephen Moyer described him as “completely original, funny, sardonic, risqué and brilliant,” as well as “quiet, smart, thoughtful, warm and kind.”

“He taught all of us that intent and courage and fearlessness and freedom are the aspects of playing make-believe that spark the corners of the room where the dark is most impenetrable; to shine a light on those corners within ourselves is the very reason we go back time and again to Movies, TV shows and Theatre. To see that spark ignited,” he added.

“Nelsan had that electricity in an abundance I have rarely seen. I can’t believe he’s gone.”

Stephen’s wife Anna Paquin agreed, sharing a long tribute on Instagram. She also tweeted, “It was an utter privilege to work with the phenomenally talented and deeply kind soul @OfficialNelsan. I’m devastated by his untimely death.”

And Joe Manganiello shared 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.”

Nelsan’s family revealed to The Hollywood Reporter that he “suffered with drug and alcohol abuse for years”.

“After many stints in rehab, Nelsan attempted to withdraw from alcohol on his own. According to his father, during his withdrawal from alcohol he had a blood infection, his kidneys shut down, his liver was swollen, his blood pressure plummeted and his dear sweet heart raced out of control,” his manager shared in a statement.

“On the morning of Saturday July 8th, after four days in Woodhull Hospital, Nelsan was pronounced dead. Nelsan was a gentle, generous and kind soul. He was a father, a son, a grandson, a brother, a nephew and a great friend to those that were lucky enough to know him.

“Nelsan was ashamed of his addiction and thus was reluctant to talk about it during his life. His family, however, believes that in death he would want his life to serve as a cautionary tale in an attempt to help others.”

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