‘True Blood’ actor Nelsan Ellis dead at 39

NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 05: Actor Nelsan Ellis attends Lee Daniels' 'The Butler' New York Premiere at Ziegfeld Theater on August 5, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images)

NEW YORK— Actor Nelsan Ellis, best known for playing the character of Lafayette Reynolds on “True Blood,” has died at the age of 39.

Ellis’ manager Emily Gerson Saines confirmed the actor’s death in an email Saturday. The Hollywood Reporter, which was first to report Ellis’ death, quoted her as saying the actor died from complications of heart failure.

The Illinois-born actor, who studied at Juilliard, played the role of Lafayette on the HBO drama from 2008 to 2014, and more recently appeared in the CBS detective series “Elementary.” He was also a playwright and a director.

Ellis also appeared as Martin Luther King, Jr. in Lee Daniels’ “The Butler,” and his film resume also included “The Help” and the James Brown biopic “Get On Up.”