Nelsan Ellis Had to Find His Lafayette

June 30, 2010 by  

Nelsan Ellis is nothing at all like the character he portrays in True Blood. Lafayette Reynolds is a flamboyant gay man but is also masculine in his attitude.

In his recent interview with Vibe, Nelsan revealed that he had a difficult time finding the Lafayette he wanted to portray.  When he auditioned, the casting director told him he was being too stereotypical.

“They figured I was playing a stereotype or something like that so I got a friend of mine to come and work the audition with me and somehow I found the character inside of me versus putting on something that wasn’t real.  Alan Ball wanted the character to be a myriad of things and at first I was skeptical but I somehow found it.”

Nelsan said he struggled with the role even after he got the job.  He said it wasn’t until the 3rd or 4th episode that his real Lafayette finally revealed himself.

What is intriguing to Nelsan is that fans like the character.  He likes the character!  “There’s something about the dude that’s likeable.”  What Nelsan likes about Lafayette is his strength and stillness.

“If you watch Lafayette he doesn’t do very much.  He’s not quick on his toes unless he gets heated.  He’s just in that southern way—sort of sauntering along, being who he is which is something I never intended.  It just happened.”

Asked if there have been any repercussions around playing a gay man, Nelsan says that it’s within the entertainment industry itself.  He finds it annoying when a casting director or agent can’t separate the character from the real person.

With regard to the gay community, however, the feedback he’s gotten is that they have not seen a guy like Lafayette; he is definitely not a stereotype.

“I think somewhere along the line they didn’t like that he was a prostitute.  But I did [laughs].  It’s who he is.  I don’t think it’s a reflection of the gay community, that’s just Lafayette.  But this is just from what I hear, I haven’t really spoken to the gay community…”

About True Blood, Nelsan referred to the show as a little like “the Jerry Springer of TV shows” with legitimate actors.  He uses words like edgy and sexy.  “With True Blood, you don’t know what to expect. You don’t know how wild it’s gonna get.”  He says the show is innovative and each episode looks like a movie, they’re shot so well.

So what’s in store for Lafayette this season?  He is going to fall in love and deal with a complicated relationship with his mother.  Nelsan said that although we’ll see a softer side of Lafayette, “there’s still gonna be that violent part of Lafayette that don’t take no bullshit.”

When asked if his love interest will be a vampire, werewolf, other supernatural creature or human, Nelsan only said that his lover has “something going on. What, I cannot say.”

Fortunately for True Blood fans, it sounds like we’ll be seeing a lot more facets to our favorite short order cook with nail polish and eye shadow.


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