True Blood’s Nelsan Ellis, promises that the Season Finale will be one to remember — and not just in terms of momentous events for his character and his partner Jesus, played by Kevin Alejandro.
“The finale turns Bon Temps upside down,” the actor said, speaking recently by phone from New York, where he was shooting a feature film tentatively titled “Gods Behaving Badly.” “Lafayette and Jesus are directly in the middle of it, and it doesn’t end well. No finale in the history of ‘True Blood’ has been worse than this one in terms of the cliffhangers. People are going to be [upset] because they’re going to have to wait like seven months before they figure out what materializes after this finale.”
By the end of last week’s episode, “Soul of Fire,” Lafayette found himself possessed by the spirit of the recently dispatched witch Marnie (Fiona Shaw), who’s more than likely to use his body to her own evil ends as she seeks to eradicate vampires not just from Bon Temps but also from the world at large.
Lafayette’s newfound abilities to communicate with the dead — and occasionally host them in his body — has offered Ellis a number of exciting opportunities to play an even wider range of scenes than usual. But he said when he first learned about his new gift, he wasn’t initially that thrilled.
“Honestly, I was like, ‘Why can’t I get a cool gift?‘ ” he said. “When they told me I was a medium, I was like, OK, like Whoopi Goldberg in ‘Ghost’? That was my first impression. But for an actor it’s pretty good being a medium because you can portray other people. Alan Ball, he’s good at challenging his actors, I’ll say that.”
Ellis said he worked closely with actress Nondumiso Tembe, who played the wronged spirit of Mavis — the mother of the murdered child whom Lafayette and Jesus helped guide to a final peaceful rest — to determine specifically how she might inhabit Lafayette’s physical body and how Ellis could then show that on screen.
“I had to work with her to figure out what she was doing, and figure out how I was going to do what she was doing inside of me,” he said. “It was a long discussion, myself and Fiona, we sort of did the same thing, figuring out how that’s done. What we figured out is that there’s a third person that’s created. I didn’t have to mimic Nondumiso, Mavis, rather I had to find out how she was in my body because she’s coming into my mechanics, we had to figure out how that was.”
Apart from taking on new identities, working with Alejandro has been a particular highlight this season, Ellis said. “Last season, it was just us maneuvering around each other trying to make this relationship seem real to the rest of the world,” he said. “It wasn’t that much of a stretch. This season you see him doing things where I’m in the scene with him and I’m completely in awe and I’m in a master class of acting. He’s an inspiration to watch.”
Although the actors had immediate chemistry, Ellis said they took pains to build the rapport they now share, key to their making the relationship between their characters seem so authentic on screen.
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