Nelsan Ellis, an actor best known for his role as Lafayette Reynolds on the HBO series “True Blood,” died on Saturday in Los Angeles. He was 39.
HBO confirmed his death but did not specify the cause.
The Hollywood Reporter quoted Mr. Ellis’s manager, Emily Gerson Saines, as saying the cause was heart failure. Ms. Saines did not reply to an email seeking comment on Sunday.
Mr. Ellis starred in “True Blood” from 2008 to 2014 as a scene-stealing diner cook and dealer of addictive vampire blood in rural Louisiana. The series was a hit, running for 80 episodes, and Mr. Ellis’s character quickly became a fan favorite.
Mr. Ellis’s “True Blood” co-stars mourned him on social media over the weekend.
Anna Paquin, who played a lead role on the show, called him a “phenomenally talented and deeply kind soul.”
“Crushed today by the loss of my friend and castmate Nelsan Ellis,” Joe Manganiello, another co-star, tweeted on Saturday. “He was a wonderful person, a pioneer, and a one of a kind artist. RIP”
“True Blood” raised Mr. Ellis’s profile in the industry and he soon began to get roles in Hollywood films like Lee Daniels’s “The Butler,” in which he played the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
He also starred in the 2014 James Brown biopic “Get On Up,” and “The Help” (2011), which was nominated for the Academy Award for best picture. Most recently he had a role on “Elementary,” a police procedural on CBS based on the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle character Sherlock Holmes.
Mr. Ellis was born on Nov. 30, 1977, in Harvey, Ill. Further information about his life, and his survivors, was not immediately available.
Octavia Spencer, who acted alongside Mr. Ellis in “The Help,” paid tribute to him on Instagram. “His talent had me speechless,” she wrote.
Correction: July 9, 2017
An earlier version of this obituary erroneously attributed a distinction to the film “The Help,” in which Mr. Ellis appeared. It was nominated for an Academy Award for best picture; it did not win.