Actor Nelsan Ellis played to perfection offbeat characters who lived life on the edge. The classically trained actor appeared in a number of primetime crime dramas before landing a star-making role in director Alan Ball's sexy vampire drama, "True Blood" (HBO, 2008-14), playing a gender-bending, morally ambiguous fry cook named Lafayette Reynolds. Critics heaped praise on Ellis' compelling performance as the show's resident drug-dealing prostitute whose otherworldly image was both effeminate yet tough. Ellis also took a bite out of feature film acting, with a minor role in the drama "The Soloist" (2009) and a lead role in the biopic "Secretariat" (2010) with Diane Lane. Throughout his career, Ellis turned in impressive performances on television and film, establishing himself as that rare actor whose range was far too vast to be boxed into a single genre.