Most recognisable from his role as Lafayette Reynolds in HBO's series 'True Blood', actor Nelsan Ellis has passed away at 39-years-old following complications that stemmed from heart failure. The news was sudden and came today - Saturday, July 8 - without any warning.

The actor never seemed to be without a smileThe actor never seemed to be without his signature smile

A brief statement released by the actor's manager Emily Gerson Saines reads: "Nelsan has passed away after complications with heart failure. He was a great talent, and his words and presence will be forever missed."

'True Blood' TV network HBO added in their own statement: "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."

Alan Ball, who worked on 'True Blood' also said: "Nelsan was a singular talent whose creativity never ceased to amaze me. Working with him was a privilege."

He had a style that could rarely be duplicatedHe had a style that could rarely be duplicated

Following his time at Julliard School, Ellis gained a number of small roles before landing that of camp homosexual cook Lafayette in 'True Blood', starring alongside his school friend Rutina Wesley. Starring on the show for all seven of its seasons, he took his character through a world that consisted of vampires, werewolves and all manner of supernatural forces.

Bringing heart and confidence to the role, Ellis helped pave the way for LGBT+ queer characters on the small screen, quickly becoming a fan favourite with those watching and ensuring that Lafayette was integral to the entire series.

When 'True Blood' came to an end in 2014, Ellis found a role in the 2015 film 'The Stanford Prison Experiment', as well as starring in 11 episodes of 'Elementary' between 2016-17. He'd also recently completed work on a film called 'True To The Game', which is scheduled for release later this year.