Nelsan Ellis Says Lafayette Has Lost His Joie de Vivre

July 22, 2010 by  

Playing Lafayette Reynolds in Season 3 of the Emmy nominated HBO hit series, True Blood, is kind of surprising to Nelsan Ellis. He knew from Charlaine Harris‘ books that Lafayette died early (the series is based on her books). “So throughout the whole first season, I thought I was dead.” Creator Alan Ball did not tell him they had decided to keep the character after filming the pilot.

In a wonderful interview with Abbie Bernstein for Buzzy Multimedia, Nelsan talked about Lafayette and his own reactions to some of his character’s experiences.

Having been locked in a dungeon by vampires, forced to dig through a severed leg for a piece of metal to use to break his captive chains, almost dying from a gunshot wound and having to drink blood from his vampire captor, Eric, in order to heal, Nelsan said Lafayette is “definitely going through post-traumatic stress disorder”.

Lafayette has always been a survivor. He pretty much stayed cool and knew how to get himself out of tight spots. Nelsan liked that lighter side of Lafayette.

“I think Lafayette looks at life in a way that is, you know, whatever. It’s just survival of the fittest. Let’s just get it done. I think he’s drama-free. As long as he gets the money to do what he wants to do, he’s fine and he keeps it light.”

But now, Nelsan says, Lafayette does not know how to get himself out of the situation he’s in with the vampires. He’s terrified. And Nelsan thinks Lafayette‘s carefree side is gone. But some of the spirit that is part of Lafayette will still live on.

Talking about some of the experiences he has had on the show as Lafayette, Nelsan said the blood in the severed leg freaked him out enough to prevent him from sleeping.

“I was grossed out by the blood because it was so real looking. The leg looked real, too, but the blood freaked me out a little bit.”

Nelsan also has a discomfort with being nude. Having been raised in Alabama as a conservative Baptist, being disrobed makes him very uncomfortable. Laughing at that, he said “In fact, my whole character should make me uncomfortable…very uncomfortable.”

Although sucking the blood from Eric’s arm (Eric is played by Alexander Skarsgard) was no problem for Nelsan, he did have difficulty kissing vampire Eddie (Stephen Root) in Season 1.

“…but he’s a good kisser, so after the seventh take, I’m like, all right, shut my eyes and just imagine it’s my girlfriend – although his facial hair was stabbing me to death in my face!”

Now he understands why women want men to shave!

Talking about the fan reaction and the overwhelming experience at San Diego’s Comic Con, Nelsan expressed his amazement and gratitude to the diehard fans – “the people who really make the show a hit because they’re the ones that write in”, chat, blog and dress up as the show’s characters.

“…they’re the ones who make sure that some characters have longevity – to the thankfulness of the actor playing that character.”

Noting that True Blood is not like any other show on TV, Nelsan’s advice to us is simply to watch it. Sunday nights on HBO.


(Photo credit – HBO Inc.)