Former “True Blood” actor Luke Grimes may be staying quiet on his departure, but his co-star Nelsan Ellis has no problem opening up about the Season 7 casting shakeup.
Fans of the HBO series will remember that Grimes in Season 6 played James, Jessica’s love interest that she met while locked up at the vamp-camp. The actor was set to return for “True Blood’s” seventh and final season, however chose to back out before filming began in late December. HBO said in a statement at the time that “the role of James is being recast due to the creative direction of the character.” Meanwhile, an insider close to the actor had told TV Line that Grimes read the scripts for Season 7 and was “disappointed to learn that they were going in a completely different direction with James.” Nathan Parsons of “The Originals” and “Bunheads” landed the open role of James.
During episode 5, the direction that “disappointed” Grimes was seemingly confirmed – the character of James came out to Lafayette (Ellis) as a gay vampire, and the pair shared a steamy backseat hookup.
Ellis, who has been with “True Blood” since its first season in 2008, commented on Luke Grime’s departure and Nathan Parson’s recasting in an interview with Vulture.
“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?’” Ellis said of Luke Grimes. “I’m just … I’m over him. You quit your job because you don’t want to play a gay part? As if it’s … You know what? I’m going to stop talking.”
Ellis continued that an actor must be “open” and that he felt that Grimes made a statement by backing out of the role.
“I did a documentary called ‘Damn 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,’” Ellis added. “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.”
While Grimes’ recasting has definitely caught attention, it seems to have worked out well all around. Grimes’ replacement, Nathan Parsons, has nothing but praise for Nelsan Ellis.
“He’s fantastic,” Parsons told The Hollywood Reporter. “The very first episode, the scene between the two of us was my first day ever on set, and so right off the bat I knew working with him was awesome. He’s brilliant, just the way that he plays around with the scenes, with the words – he’s so free when he’s in that character. What he just naturally brings to the character is so free, it allows you permission to do that yourself.”
“True Blood” fans can look forward to seeing more of Ellis and Parsons as Lafayette and James as the seventh and final season of the show progresses.