Difficult news today for True Blood fans and beyond, as beloved star Nelsan Ellis has tragically passed away at a young age. The Julliard-trained actor had appeared in everything from The Help to CBS’ Elementary.

The Hollywood Reporter confirms that the 39-year old Ellis passed away of complications with heart failure, of which his manager Emily Gerson Saines stated “He was a great talent, and his words and presence will be forever missed.” HBO also offered condolences, alluding to the fact that Ellis’ portrayal of True Blood favorite Lafayette Reynolds eclipsed his literary counterpart’s early fate:

We were extremely saddened to hear of the passing of Nelsan Ellis. 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.

Added series creator Alan Ball:

Nelsan was a singular talent whose creativity never ceased to amaze me. Working with him was a privilege.

An Illinois native, Ellis also appeared as Martin Luther King Jr. in The Butler, and most recently took a semi-regular role in CBS’ Elementary as Sherlock Holmes character Shinwell Johnson. He is survived by his grandmother, father, son Breon, and numerous siblings.

In the meantime, wishes to those remembering Nelsan Ellis’ work

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