Nelsan Ellis addresses ‘True Blood’ actor quitting over gay storyline

Nelsan Ellis & Luke Grimes - Cover

It came as a shock to many in June when it was alleged that former “True Blood” actor Luke Grimes left the show and was replaced by actor Nathan Parsons because he didn’t want to play a gay role opposite Nelsan Ellis in the series. Although Grimes’ reps denied the allegations of homophobia, Ellis recently addressed the issue and criticized Grimes for his decision to leave the show.

Ellis spoke about Grimes’ departure in a recent interview in the Vulture, saying that he hasn’t had the opportunity to “talk to or bond” with Grimes since his exit, but that he did think Grimes’ disapproval of playing gay was absurd.

“I mean, I can say I’m not going to make a comment, but I just think that, you’re an actor, you’re an actor on a show that’s ‘True Blood,’ we’re all sitting there going, ‘You quit your job because … really?’ I’m just … I’m over him. You quit your job because you don’t want to play a gay part?” said Ellis.

Ellis further explained that Grimes’ exit not only sends a message to his viewers about his personal issues with sexuality, but that it also has an impact on the people around him.

“You have to be open. But more importantly, you make a statement when you do something like that. I did a documentary called D*mn Wonderful, about gay suicide, and you make a statement, a big statement, when you go, ‘I don’t want to play this part because it’s gay.’ If you have a child, if you have a son, and he comes out as gay, what are you going to do? If you have a daughter who comes out gay …? You just made a statement, and it has ripple effects. First of all, this show, it’s True Blood, and s—, we get scared when we read scripts! Excuse my language. When scripts come, we’re like, “What are they going to have us do this week?” But when you make a statement that is a judgment … I was kind of like, ‘Have you met Alan Ball?’ I’m supposed to do what my boss tells me to do, as an actor. I can’t approach a character with judgment. I certainly can’t tell my boss, ‘I can act what I want to act, but not what you tell me to act,’ especially on a show where you come in, knowing what it is. I was like, ‘Okay… I guess?’ I just thought that, having just done the documentary, I didn’t like what he did because he made a statement, and sometimes you have to take responsibility,” said Ellis.

And when asked what he thought about Grimes being asked back for the “True Blood” musical, Ellis had serious doubts about Grimes’ career in general.

“I don’t think he’ll be invited back to HBO,” said Ellis.

As Ellis said, Grimes should have known full well that being on “True Blood” requires you to play gay at some point. And considering how many coveted LGBT roles are springing up in TV shows and movies, any actor worth his or her weight in talent should be open to a great (gay) role and a great paycheck to play it. – nicholas robinson

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