Lafayette Reynolds

played by Nelsan Ellis

Lafayette Reynolds is the fast-talking, flamboyant and fabulous cook at Merlotte's...

Character Bio

Lafayette Reynolds is the fast-talking, flamboyant and fabulous cook at Merlotte's. He recently discovered that he's a medium, and while he finds this ability helpful at times, it's also the reason he lost his boyfriend Jesus.


In his current role as Lafayette on the HBO vampire saga 'True Blood,' Nelsan Ellis is undeniably charismatic and entertaining. The show, returning this summer for its third season, is already a certified and award-winning hit.

Nelsan appeared in the feature film 'The Soloist' opposite Robert Downey Jr. and Jamie Foxx and has completed filming 'The Express' for Universal Pictures.

Nelsan's other television credits include the Fox television series 'The Insider' for producer Brian Grazer, the HBO Film 'Warm Springs' opposite Kenneth Branagh, Cynthia Nixon and Kathy Bates, as well as 'Veronica Mars' for the UPN Network.

Born in Chicago, Nelsan moved to Alabama at a young age and was raised in Bessemer, a largely poor and black suburb of Birmingham. At 14, he returned to Chicago and attended Thornridge High, which proved to be an oasis within a hard and bustling city, due to its emphasis on arts education. It was at Thornridge where Nelsan discovered his passion for acting and where he flourished.

In addition to acting, Nelsan found another interest in writing, and while attending Juilliard, wrote the semi-autobiographical play, 'Ugly,' which was performed at the school. For his efforts, he received the Martin Segal Award from Lincoln Center.

Cast in True Blood, Nelsan has impressed not only audiences but the show’s executives as well. Director/Producer Alan Ball allows that Nelsan owns most of the scenes he is in as his own. "We just stand back and point the camera in his direction and let him loose," says Ball. "Nelsan channels his energy from his own planet." For his efforts on the debut season, Nelson was nominated for a Satellite Media Award.

Because of the violent death of his sister Alice, Nelsan has personally come to understand the nature of domestic violence and child abuse, and he has a unique desire to bring the problems of these epidemics to the forefront of the world's consciousness.

Body Snatched


Possession is really the word of the season, and Lafayette gets a major dose of it in ‘Let's Get Out of Here.' How did you prepare to play the restless spirit of a murdered Creole woman?

Nelsan Ellis

Study the actress who's playing the role. I was studying her dailies, and then she and I got together to work. I talked a lot to Fiona and tried to figure out what "possession" meant to me. I realized that I don't become the person - the person becomes me. They get into a body where the mechanics are already there. Mavis has this funky little swish to her walk, but I was like, "No, my hips can't move like that." But I'd have something subtle that suggested that that was the direction that my hips wanted to go in. So, I tried to figure out what subtle nuances I could take from her that would remind the audience of who she was inside of me but also stay true to what Lafayette is, what his body does and the fact that he's still in there.


He always seems to be at the mercy of this insane world around him - why is it that trouble always finds Lafayette?

Nelsan Ellis

Because he knows what to do with it ... Lafayette is a survivor. Trouble comes, and then he surmounts it and moves on. I don't know why he has all these problems. He got on this moving train that just won't stop, and it just takes him deeper and deeper. I just hope he calms down next season.


The show was just renewed - what's it like to be one of the few characters who died in the books but lives on in the HBO series, with no clues as to what might happen in a new season?

Nelsan Ellis

Well, Alan has been pretty consistent in making BIG changes for all the characters, to keep the audience on their toes - so they don't know what's going to happen. But it does feel good to me to have some mystery, because there's no landscape for me anywhere. I'm not in any of the books, so it's completely up in the air where Alan is going to take me in any season. He clearly knows what he's doing - so being at the mercy of Alan Ball is not a bad thing at all.


One development this season is that Lafayette's hairstyles have reached a whole new level - any idea what the reason behind that is?

Nelsan Ellis

There was a year in between seasons, so I think the dude grew a little hair. And now, to complement his scarf-wearing on top of his head, he also has some hair to play with. I think his love life has something to do with it, too. He's in this new relationship with Jesus that's exciting. People always sort of become more physically conscious because they want to be sexy for a new person. Lafayette is in love. Is he getting a little bored? Maybe. But he's in love.


Speaking of romantic attachments, do you have any thoughts on who Sookie belongs with?

Nelsan Ellis

I think she belongs with Alcide, to be honest. I think she should be with a real boy. I think she should go off, get married, have babies and live in the daytime. Quite frankly, Alcide is the most genuine of all of them. We have this side of Eric because he lost his memories - but we know who Eric really is. And then we have Bill with all these ulterior motives. The girls don't end up with the bad boy ... they end up with the Alcides of the world-if they're lucky.

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