Nelsan Ellis Talks Truth

August 20, 2010 by  

Nelsan Ellis, True Blood, Lafayette ReynoldsFans may fight over Team Bill or Team Eric, but anyone who is a fan of True Blood is a fan of Lafayette Reynolds. Recently Nelsan Ellis, who plays the flamboyant character, dished about the man behind the character, his new found popularity, his sexuality, and some unknown facts about him.

Lafayette is Merlotte’s cook, who also deals V for Eric Northman; he’s also Tara Thornton’s cousin. What makes him so special is his flare for style and quick wit. Nothing gets past him. The future for this character is unknown on True Blood, but that future will definitely be a dangerous and exciting one. In the Charlaine Harris series, Lafayette is just a flamboyant character, but dies in the book without much further development.

Prior to his work in True Blood, Nelsan appeared on The Insider, Veronica Mars, and Warm Springs. Though he’s an award winning American film and television actor and playwright, he has just recently become a star. Nelsan isn’t complaining; he loves the reaction Lafayette is getting from the fans. Lafayette was supposed to die, but Alan Ball rescued the character, and Nelsan is simply grateful to be a part of such a successful show.

Having read seven of the books in the Sookie Stackhouse series, Nelsan believes that Alan improved on the visual medium; he had develop the story beyond the first person perspective of Sookie. By not following the books exactly, the show is allowed to surprise the audience; it can be unpredictable… like Lafayette.

Unlike his character, the 32 year old actor is straight and describes himself as:

“…A boring person. I ob­viously share a lot of traits with him, but basically I’m not sort of like him. He is bold while I’m shy. He’s gay and I’m not. I’m very different from him and yet I’m not because in order to make Lafayette real, I have to build him from who I am. I know this is a complicated answer but I’m different from him – and yet, not.”

However, like the fans, Nelsan can’t help loving Lafayette for being unapologetic and bold. He does what he wants, regardless of how others may judge him. However, Nelsan says that Lafayette isn’t his favorite character because:

“I switch from season to season. Tara is probably my ultimate favourite be­cause Rutina Wesley (who plays Tara) is my friend and I like working with her but Eric (played by Alexander Skars­gård) is probably the one I consistently love, although Ryan Kwanten’s character (as Jason Stackhouse) is hilarious. But the two, Tara and Eric are my favourite characters because they both are very powerful characters. Eric is powerful in his stillness and Tara is powerful in her wrath.”

It seems that Alan Ball is happy with his choice to portray Lafayette. After four auditions, Alan gave Nelsan the part. In order to create a credible and true character, Nelsan did a lot of research. He went to gay clubs to watch how gay men act and operate. However, the character truly comes from a mix of his mother and sisters.

When in character, Nelsan wears tight fitting women’s tops, bold make-up, and jewelry. Though in real life he usually wears his glasses, a hat, and lets his beard grow out. He looks like an ordinary man with an ordinary life. However, fans are quick to spot the star. Nelsan had an experience once where:

“One fan was tattooing ‘Lafayette’ on his legs and he wanted me to come down to the tattoo parlour and watch the process. I did, and that was a weird experience and flattering at the same time.”

Though Lafayette has brought Nelsan fame, it also has brought him the concern of being typecast in gay or offbeat roles. He notes,

“I think African American men particularly are fearful of playing a big personality role because Hollywood seems to always keep us there and can’t see us beyond that. But I’m hoping that because I do movies in my off time that maybe Hollywood consistently sees me as a character actor.”

In the future, Nelsan would love to play dramatic roles and different types of characters. Nelsan has appeared in the Soloist, and has recently finished The Express. Very soon the movie Secretar­iat will be coming out, which is directed by Randall Wallace and will feature alongside Nelsan: Diane Lane, Penny Chenery, and John Malkovich. After Season 3 of True Blood wraps up, he will also feature in a movie called The Help.

Now that he’s found fame, Nelsan can’t be a normal person anymore. He has to be on his best behavior in order to avoid negativity in the press. He also has to be more careful when he’s out with his three year old son. Many strangers approach him, but if they are fans or foes is hard to tell sometimes. Nelsan loves his fans but he’s also very protective over his son, as a good father should be!

Finally, reminiscent of TeenBeat, here are some tidbits about Nelsan Ellis:

  • While attending Juliard, Nelsan wrote the semi-autobiographical play, Ugly. Not only was it performed at the school, it won the Martin Segal Award from Lincoln Cen­tre.
  • When it comes to the fight between weres and vampires, for Nelsan vampires are much sexier and cooler.
  • The five items Nelsan always carries: a rosary, watch, glasses, hat and wallet.
  • When it comes to the True Blood beverage, Nelsan likes to spice it up with some vodka.
  • If V were real, Nelsan admits, he’d be addicted to the life substance.

SOURCE: — Lafayette Bares His True Soul

(Photo Credit: Amy Graves)