Wednesday 13 December 2017

True Blood actor Nelsan Ellis died ‘after trying to beat alcohol addiction alone’

The actor had battled addiction to drink and drugs for years, his agent said.

Nelsan Ellis at a True Blood premiere in 2011 (Matt Sayles/AP)
Nelsan Ellis at a True Blood premiere in 2011 (Matt Sayles/AP)

By Sam Blewett, Press Association Los Angeles Correspondent

True Blood actor Nelsan Ellis died from heart failure after trying to withdraw from alcohol on his own, his agent has said.

Ellis, 39, suffered with addiction to drink and drugs for years and tried to beat the disease alone after “many stints” in rehab, according to a statement released with his father’s permission.

The actor, who played Lafayette Reynolds in the HBO series, died on July 8 after a four-day fight for his life in Woodhull hospital in New York, agent Emily Gerson Saines said on Monday.

“Nelsan has suffered with drug and alcohol abuse for years,” she said.

“After many stints in rehab, Nelsan attempted to withdraw from alcohol on his own.

“According to his father, during his withdrawal from alcohol he had a blood infection, his kidneys shut down, his liver was swollen, his blood pressure plummeted, and his dear sweet heart raced out of control.”

She paid tribute to the Illinois-born actor as a “gentle, generous and kind soul” who was a “great friend to those that were lucky enough to know him”.

“Nelsan was ashamed of his addiction and thus was reluctant to talk about it during his life,” she added.

“His family, however, believes that in death he would want his life to serve as a cautionary tale in an attempt to help others.”

The NHS recommends that anyone with alcohol dependency should seek medical advice before undergoing withdrawal and that those with severe addiction may need hospital supervision while undergoing detox.

Experts say that death can be caused by seizures and delirium tremens, a confusion and increased heart rate which is brought in severe cases of withdrawal.

Ellis first appeared in True Blood as the cook at Merlotte’s grill in 2008 and remained for the show’s seven series.

He appeared in CBS show Elementary most recently and he also had a role in 2011 film The Help.

Press Association

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