This was written by @stephenmoyer about @nelsanellisofficial .... One of the very first days on set of the pilot of True Blood was shot at Merlotte’s Bar. That and Sookie’s house were the only real sets we had before we were picked up. Most else was out on location. I was there to shoot Vampire Bill’s entrance into the bar, but before that, they were shooting the sequence where the audience get to see the girls waitressing and the townsfolk who frequent the bar for the first time. Pretty much the entire cast.
There was a general feeling of excitement like few I’ve ever experienced, because, let’s face it, not only were we working for HBO, but we were shooting this odd, extraordinarily special, kinda weird and hilarious all at the same time ALAN BALL script.. They were heady days.
The kitchen Suzuki Ingerslev had built in Merlotte’s was completely authentic with a walk in freezer and working gas burners. It remained my favourite set throughout all 7 seasons - when shooting in Louisiana many months later she took us to the actual bar she had used as inspiration. It was almost as amazing as our Merlotte’s, but not quite - They didn’t have a Lafayette.
In the scene that was being shot that day, Lafayette, a male cross-dressing short order cook in the show, was expounding on his theory of men’s fear of the female anatomy.. specifically, the vagina. ‘I know every man whether straight, gay or George MotherFuckin’ Bush is afraid of the pussy..’
I’m not sure I have ever seen, before or since, people crowd around a monitor at video village with their hands clapped to their mouths from shock, sheer laughter and wonder as the actor playing Lafayette jiggled and shook and humped the butchers block to get his point across. it was completely original, funny, sardonic, risqué and brilliant.
That was Nelsan Ellis. All of the above.
I turned to Alan when the scene was finished and whispered… ‘you can’t kill him!’ (Lafayette’s death at the of the first book is the cliffhanger that leads to Book 2… needless to say, the writers immediately had to find a way to keep him in the show)
Nelsan Ellis was the only actor in the seven years of True Blood whom Alan allowed to improv