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Nelsan Ellis Q&A at MCM Expo in London

Nelsan Ellis Q&A at MCM Expo in London

On October 24, Nelsan Ellis attended the MCM Expo (London Movie Comic Media Expo 16) in London. He signed autographs at the True Blood booth, took pics with fans and answered their questions during the True Blood panel where he spoke of his introduction to True Blood, the creation of Lafayette, and working with show creator Alan Ball.

The video below should give you a feel for what the MCM Expo was like. To learn more about the experience, click here to read our previous report from a UK Truebie’s who attended the event.

Here’s some of what he has to say during the True Blood panel, as reported by Den of Geek.

94637What is it like for you, when you come to conventions like this, and you see all these people who respect your work?

It’s flattering. When an actor experiences people appreciating his work, it feels good.

How did you first become involved in the series?

I auditioned! I had four auditions, and for some reason, Alan Ball hired me.

Did you know anything about the books [The Southern Vampire Mysteries series] before you auditioned?

I did not know anything about Charlaine Harris’ books. My agent told me to audition, and I read seven of the books – I think at the time she had only seven done. My character dies after the first book, so I was like, ‘damn!’, but I read all seven before the audition.

And, of course, you read that, and know your character is going to die. How did that change your performance?

Well, it was straightforward. They gave me a one-year contract, and said ‘you’re gonna die after 12 episodes’, and I was cool with that.

And when you didn’t, how did you feel?

Elated! Because I still had a job! Alan Ball told me after we had the table read of the twelfth episode. So, up until that point, I thought I was dead. He went ‘you know you’re not dying, right?’, and I said ‘I didn’t, but thanks for telling me!’.

Your character has been described as a homosexual, drug-dealing chef. What was the biggest challenge out of having to do all of those? Can you cook?

I cannot cook! [laughs] In fact, my son rarely eats my food. But, it’s make-believe! And I have a strong imagination, so I think I’m pretty good on all the stuff.

How is it playing a role that is so different from how you are as a person?

It’s fun. Every chance I get to where I could be something that’s not me, I jump at it. Because I’m guarded and I have these rules on how I should behave, but whenever I get to jump out of those rules, and go fucking crazy (excuse my language), I do! Lafayette is a dream role for me.

What gave you the urge to audition for the role?

My agents, they told me to audition – so I did!

What has been your favourite moment playing Lafayette so far?

The AIDS-Burger scene [cheer from audience] was my favourite moment. I’m a rough type of dude, I was in the military, so I like physical activity, so I got to do that, and beat some ass. That was my favourite, and plus it was just a well written scene.

How did you come up with the Lafayette character?

It was a collaboration. We all threw in some ideas. The scarf thing, is ’cause my momma used to wear a lot of scarves. I think there’s some Prince influence in there. We did research, went to a whole lot of gay clubs, we’d go down on the strip, so we just came up with it. We also threw in some ideas into this stew of his wardrobe. Especially his head-wraps.

Do you relate to your character in any way?

Absolutely! I don’t know how. His toughness, his aggressiveness. What else? I’m a creature from the street, so his street-smarts. I’m not as bold as he is, in all situations, but I’d like to be.

Has the show caused much controversy in the American South?

I think so. We’ve been banned in Shreveport, Louisiana, from shooting in certain places, because they’re morally against the message the show gives. So, there are some places in the South where I think there’s some controversy.

Who are your friends on the set, and who would you like to work with again?

I’m probably the closest to Rutina [Wesley], because we went to school together. But the person I’d like to work with most is Alexander Skarsgård, because he’s a good actor, we’ve become good friends, and I like the dude a lot.

Speaking of Alexander Skarsgård, will we actually ever see any of Lafayette’s dreams with Eric?

[Laughs] I think I heard Alan Ball say there might be a scene or two… Why, do you want to see that? You wanna see me and Alex getting it on? [plenty of slash-fic screams/applause from the audience]

What has the toughest part of playing Lafayette been so far?

Well, I’m going through some post-traumatic stress disorder in the second season. And that was tough, because I’m used to Lafayette being fun, and so for him to be breaking down with this disorder, it’s kinda hard.

What’s it like working with Alan Ball?

He’s a god among men. He really is a genius at what he does. I get to rub elbows with him on a daily basis. He writes some of the episodes, and he directs some of the episodes, so I end up being a sponge, soaking up all his genius. When he directs you – and I’m like, this dude has won Oscars – he knows what he’s doing.

Lafayette came about from a collaboration between myself and Alan. He set out the course, for how he wanted this character to be played, because Lafayette in the books is different… and that’s because Alan Ball wanted Lafayette on True Blood to have more dimension than what Charlaine Harris gave the character in the books.

You’re appearing in The Soloist at the moment, can you tell us anything about that?

Joe Wright, who’s from here, he casted me as one of the homeless people. And Jamie Foxx couldn’t come to the table read, so he, just, off the cuff, said ‘hey, you read Jamie Foxx’s part’… I said ‘cool, I’ll do it’. So we did a table read, and after the table read, he gave me a bigger part – the part of David, who ran a homeless shelter.

If you weren’t an actor, what would you like to be?

A lawyer, because I’ve got a lot of criminals in my family to represent!

Written by Lynnpd

Lynnpd has an avid interest in the entertainment industry from classic movies to all things True Blood. With a background in art, she enjoys creating in Photoshop, running web sites and finds the internet an exciting place to be. Lynn lives in the LA area and attends as many Hollywood related events as she can. She has covered events for the both websites in the LA area; read all about it at

4 Comment responses

  1. Avatar
    November 03, 2009

    Thanks, Lynn, for posting. It’s great to get some one on one with Nelsan. Loved his last comment about being a lawyer if he wasn’t an actor …. “because I’ve got a lot of criminals in my family to represent.

    The Aids-burger scene … one of my favorites. “Tip your waitress.” Yessss!!!


  2. Avatar
    November 03, 2009

    Nelsan is the best. Always so humble, always so real. Whenever I meet other True Blood devotees, I’m always amazed at how many of them genuinely select Lafayette as their favorite character. For some reason Lafayette really speaks to a lot of people. Nelsan, you are outstanding *bows*


  3. Avatar
    November 07, 2009

    I love him more and more each day! :-)


  4. Avatar
    June 13, 2010

    he is one of my faves and i am so glad they didn’t kill him off! i had watch the show 1st then read the books i was like Thank god Lafayette Rocks!! i would love to hang out with him one day ! you know he is so good at playing Lafayette i was clueless to if he was gay or not it was driving me crazy! he plays it to good!


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