The actor, who was undoubtedly best known for his role as Lafayette Reynolds in the HBO drama, passed away after complications with heart failure.
His manager Emily Gerson Saines confirmed his passing to The Hollywood Reporter, adding: “He was a great talent, and his words and presence will be forever missed.”
Octavia Spencer, who starred alongside Nelsan in The Help, also published a touching tribute on Instagram after hearing the sad news.
HBO said in a statement: “We were extremely saddened to hear of the passing of Nelsan Ellis. Nelsan was a long-time member of the HBO family whose groundbreaking portrayal of Lafayette will be remembered fondly within the overall legacy of True Blood.
“Nelsan will be dearly missed by his fans and all of us at HBO.”
True Blood creator Alan Ball added: “Nelsan was a singular talent whose creativity never ceased to amaze me. Working with him was a privilege.”
Nelsan also had significant roles in Get on Up, Lee Daniels’ The Butler, Little Boxes, and in the TV series Elementary as reformed criminal Shinwell Johnson.
Nathan is survived by his father, grandmother and son.