TV & Video Magazine

Nelsan Ellis on Life and Being Lafayette

Posted on the 07 July 2011 by Thevault @The_Vault

Nelsan Ellis on Life and being LafayetteTrue Blood’s Nelsan Ellis certainly owns the character of Lafayette Reynolds. As most know, he was to have died in the first season, but with Nelsan’s excellent portrayal he won over not only the fans, but the writers of True Blood.

Below in this interview with New York Magazine, we learn more about this talented actor and what we can expect from Lafayette this season.

Give him your tired, your poor, your gay prostitutes, your drug dealers, and your symbolically orphaned and Nelsan Ellis will handily weave them all into one character. Or at least that’s what the Southern marine turned actor does on True Blood in the role of Lafayette Reynolds, the short-order cook who’s proven it’s possible to be both sassy and swaggering. This season, he’ll put his moxie to good use, nurturing a relationship with new boyfriend Jesus and taming a coven of overachieving witches. How does he do it all? We spoke with the molasses-tongued Ellis about the turmoil in store for Lafayette as well as Ellis’s real-life drama, which easily rivals his True Blood material.


You look nothing like Lafayette in real life. How much goes into physically getting into character?
Um, I wear more makeup than any of the girls on the show. I wore everything initially: eye stuff, lip stuff. That didn’t work too well on my face, so it just evolved to where it is now.

What about Lafayette’s hair this season? Was the Mohawk your idea?[Whispers.]
Yeah, that was my idea. I figure since he’s got a boyfriend, he probably wants to jazz it up a bit.

Did you base Lafayette on anyone?
He’s inspired by my mother: his spirit, his strength, his femininity, his masculinity, his hand gestures, his hair pieces. A friend saw a picture of Lafayette and goes, “That looks like your mother, dude.” I don’t look anything like my mother, except when I’m Lafayette. I look like my father.

As a straight man, how concerned were you with not making a stereotype out of an already eccentric gay character?
I was very concerned. I didn’t want to offend anybody in the gay community. And I wanted to make a believable human being, not this concept of gay.

Do you think we’ll see same-sex marriage on True Blood, with either Tara or Lafayette?
I don’t think Tara’s gay; I think she’s in a phase. But Lafayette? I don’t think Lafayette is the marrying kind. He’s that person who floats and doesn’t want to be weighed down by a ball and chain.

Has your conservative father had any change of heart about you playing Lafayette?
He works at a meat-packing company and is a deacon in the church — he’s a man’s man, my father. So seeing his son look like that, you know, makes him uneasy. Anything that goes against his biblical nature was never allowed in the house — vampire shows, anything sexual. So it’s not just me. But he supports me in his own little way: [Chuckles.] He’ll turn True Blood on, but he won’t actually sit down and watch it.

This season, Lafayette has a boyfriend. What will this whole witch thing do to the stability he’s finally found?
You’d think it would sort of shake up the relationship, because Jesus is a witch and Lafayette don’t want nothing to do with that business. It’s a world he’s, quite frankly, afraid of, because his mother — we found out last season — may be somewhat supernatural in the witch world. But it actually brings a closeness. While they’re navigating this world, things happen and they have to protect each other.

It wouldn’t be Lafayette without the drama.
Oh yes. That’s [executive producer] Alan Ball’s recipe for success. The witches bring a whole lotta drama into everybody’s lives. They’re the ones shaking up the whole season, in terms of all the supernaturals.

Up to this point, the most traumatic thing to happen to Lafayette was in season two, when he was chained up like a slave by Eric. One of our readers wants to know how you felt about this.
I had a premiere party at my house, and one of my friends, as soon as they saw it, was like, “You look like Cinque [from Amistad].” But that’s Eric’s thing; he’d chain everyone up in the basement. I was uncomfortable, but it wasn’t a race thing at all. If I felt it was not for the right reasons, I absolutely would’ve said, “Alan, I don’t want to do this.”

Continue reading this article, by going to

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog