Nelsan Ellis, a star on the now defunct HBO vampire series True Blood, has passed away at the age 39. According to his publicist, the actor died after complications with heart failure.

The Illinois native was a graduate from Juilliard and started his acting career in in the early ‘00s. He joined the cast of True Blood in 2008 playing Lafayette Reynolds, a short order cook and medium with even a shorter temper for bigots. He played Lafayette for seven seasons from 2008-2014. Last recurring role was on CBS’ Elementary.

Among his other television roles include cameos on Fox’s The Inside, UPN’s Veronica Mars and CBS’ Without a Trace. Ellis also star alongside Chadwick Boseman in the James Brown biopic, Get On Up.

"He was a great talent, and his words and presence will be forever missed," his manager told The Hollywood Reporter.

Upon hearing the sad news, True Blood cast members express their condolences on social media."Heartbreaking," tweeted Deborah Ann Woll, who played the vampire Jessica on the series.

The show's creator Alan Ball also paid tribute to the young actor. "Nelsan was a singular talent whose creativity never ceased to amaze me," he said. "Working with him was a privilege."

Ellis is survived by his son Breon Ellis, his father Tommie Lee Thompson, seven siblings, his aunt and his grandmother.

Read some of the tributes to Nelsan Ellis below:

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