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Nelsan Ellis Speaks with the Huffington Post Regarding Hoodoo Love

Posted on the 29 September 2012 by Tbfansource @tbfansource

Nelsan Ellis Speaks with the Huffington Post Regarding Hoodoo LoveDirecting his first play, Hoodoo Love has special meaning for True Blood’s Nelsan Ellis (Lafayette Reynolds). The play is being put on by the Collective Theater, which he founded with friends he attended high school with.  The play on the other hand is an Olivier award-winning piece set in Memphis, Tennessee and written by playwright Katori Hall. The Huffington Post recently sat down with Ellis to discuss the process of directing the play, memories of living in Chicago, and writer Joseph Erbentraut even tried to squeeze out a few True Blood season 6 spoilers for good measure!

According to Nelsan, the Collective Theatre was started by himself and a group of friends he went to high school with. They were all theatre or speech team kids back then and after graduation went their own separate ways. But they all returned to Chicago to form the company together. The play Hoodoo Love was picked by two of the members because it’s an extremely well-written but very hard play to produce due to its heightened language and complexity:

“It’s the language. It’s such a heightened piece of material and yet if you play it that way throughout the play, then it is overkill. Katori Hall’s language is dealing with some complex parts of humanity. A woman is assaulted and abused by a man and she wants a man who doesn’t belong to her. She comes into the relationship with these problems. Originally, Veronda compiled a list of three directors she wanted to us to choose from and when I saw that list I put my name on it. They chose me only because we felt that for our first play we should probably bring some fresh new ideas to the table.”

Nelsan Ellis Speaks with the Huffington Post Regarding Hoodoo Love

This first play also seems like it is a product of how Nelsan was shaped by moving to Chicago as a kid. Born in Alabama, he moved to Chicago to attend Thornridge High School where he ended up meeting his friends Francois, Le’Mil, Veronda, and Metra. The move made an impact on Nelsan because he says that he came from a place where education wasn’t valued and if you did value it you were a nerd. Thornridge was a completely different experience because people there did value education and extracurricular activities were something that people liked doing.So it was a move in the right direction.

Chicago now is in the midst of a teachers strike and when asked how he felt about it, Nelsan says it is a shame because he has nothing but respect for what teachers do, recalling how his own drama teachers in high school made an impact on him going through school.

Outside of Hoodoo Love, Nelsan recently finished filming the Butler in which he plays Martin Luther King, Jr. To play such an important man was nerve wracking:

“It’s completely unnerving and mind-boggling because you have to play a character that is so widely known and the expectation is to get it right. I don’t know if I got it right. I was working with all these Oscar winners and that was definitely unnerving to be in a scene with Forest Whitaker and Liev Schreiber, with Cuba Gooding Jr. and Lenny Kravitz and Terrence Howard. And then Oprah walks by and it was like, uh, OK.”

Nelsan Ellis Speaks with the Huffington Post Regarding Hoodoo LoveWhen asked about his fan-favorite role of True Blood, Nelsan couldn’t say anything about season six because the actors are kept in the dark so he won’t know anything until the first day of work. But he did say that Lafayette’s mannerisms have sometimes leaked into his everyday life:

“…Dude, all the time. It’s so funny because I pull it off in everyday life unknowingly. I’ll do a hand thing or, just yesterday, I started into it while I was directing. I’ve played the character for five years now and it still absolutely leaks into my life.”

And as for strange fan encounters, Nelsan doesn’t think anything is strange…it just gets a bit awkward when couples are involved:

“It’s not tough because it’s the fan appreciating the character, but it gets weird when a woman comes up with her husband and says, “Just call me ‘bitch,’ call me ‘hooker!’” Her husband says it’s OK and you can do it, but it’s a little weird in that respect.”

Source: Huffington Post.com- “Nelsan Ellis, ‘True Blood’ Star, Returns To Chicago To Direct ‘HooDoo Love’”

Image Credits: Jason Merritt, Getty Images, and HBO, Inc.

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