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Nelsan Ellis Predicts The Help Will Win Best Picture, Best Actress

Photo: Larry Busacca/2011 Getty Images
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 08:  Actor Nelsan Ellis attends Time Warner's "Beyond 9/11" Photo Exhibit and Screening at Milk Studios on September 8, 2011 in New York City.  (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for Time Warner)
Nelsan Ellis. Photo: Larry Busacca/2011 Getty Images

You would expect Nelsan Ellis to be fully onboard with The Help — he’s got a small role in it, after all — but when we caught up with Ellis yesterday at the John Varvatos/Fashion’s Night Out event and asked whether he thought the film would get a Best Picture nomination, he predicted big things. “It will, and it’ll probably win,” he said. “Viola Davis is probably going to win the Oscar for that. How often do you see a performance where the actor is that dynamic, even without speaking? Her and Emma Stone are my favorite parts in The Help.” Ellis had plenty of compliments to pay Bryce Dallas Howard and Octavia Spencer, too, but there’s another up-and-coming co-star he’s personally invested in. “Jessica Chastain! That girl is exciting. She’s marvelous. [After making The Help] I saw The Debt, and I was like, Jessica Chastain! She’s an excellent actress. I went to school with her, so I’m a little biased. She was a few years ahead of me at Julliard. She was amazing back then, too.”

As for his day job, Ellis claims that his current True Blood arc, where Lafayette finds himself possessed by the witch Marnie, wasn’t an easy thing to film. “Alan Ball told me I couldn’t try to talk like her, and I was like, ‘Really?’ So that was challenging. ‘Who do I act like?’ ‘Not her.’ I had to create something else … We’ll see what the fans say about it. The most exciting part of the episode isn’t me, though — it’s the cliffhangers.”

But True Blood always ends its seasons with big cliffhangers! “No,” said Ellis gravely. “This year, it’s on a different scale. When we all read the script, we were like, ‘What?!’ The cliffhangers take it to another level.” Are we getting something akin to the first season finale, where we thought that Lafayette had perished in the final minutes? “I can’t give it away, but something like that, except, I can’t say, but something really big on that level is going to happen.” He laughed. “You’ll see, and it’ll throw you for a loop, and then you all will have to wait for eight months!”

Nelsan Ellis Predicts The Help Will Win Best Picture, Best Actress