Sunday, July 17, 2011

Rise of Lafayette How Nelsan Ellis convinced ‘True Blood’ creator to save his character

Actor Nelsan Ellis, who plays Lafayette Reynolds on HBO’s hit vampire series “True Blood,” remembers what he’d hear in meetings when he was a Juilliard graduate trying to land roles in Hollywood.
“Everybody kept saying, ‘I just don’t know how to sell you,’ ” he recalls. “I’m odd. I don’t think you can put a finger on me. I have some sex appeal, but I’m not the sexy dude. Although I can be a leading man, you wouldn’t look at me and go, ‘He’s a leading man.’ ”
Does it surprise anyone, then, that what would launch Ellis is a stereotype-busting role as a gay, muscular short order cook/prostitute/drug dealer who wears makeup and can beat up rednecks? Sitting at a sidewalk café on a busy street in Los Angeles, Ellis, dressed in a T-shirt and flat cap, explains how, in many ways, Lafayette is him.