Ray Stevenson has passed away from unknown causes at age 59, leaving behind a legacy of performances in genre and historical films.
As reported by his publicist, Ray Stevenson passed away on Sunday, while filming an upcoming project on the island of Ischia in Italy. While Italian newspaper La Repubblica reported he had been admitted to a local hospital Saturday, no official cause of death has been confirmed at this time.
The shocking news comes just one month after the reveal of his character in the upcoming Star Wars series Ahsoka, where he will play an orange lightsaber-wielding villain named Baylan Skoll who hunts Jedi alongside his apprentice Shin Hati (Ivanna Sakhno).
Ray Stevenson may be more readily recognizable for his role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe‘s first three Thor films, playing the God of Thunder’s steadfast ally Volstagg. Previously, he played a different Marvel superhero in 2008’s Punisher: War Zone.
Stevenson was born May 25, 1964 in Lisburn, Ireland, and studied at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. After getting his start in British television, his breakout roles included Titus Pullo in HBO’s Rome, Dagonet in King Arthur, and Danny Greene in Kill the Irishman.
Over the last decade, his resume spanned various film, stage, and screen roles like Big Game alongside Samuel L. Jackson, Vikings, Dexter, and the Divergent series. Most recently, he played the villainous governor in the blockbuster Bollywood action film RRR, his debut in Indian cinema.
Baylan Skoll in Ahsoka is Ray Stevenson’s second role in Star Wars, as he previously provided the voice for Gar Saxon, commander of Maul’s Mandalorian super commandos in The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels (alongside his Rome co-star Kevin McKidd as his rival, Fenn Rau). In a recent interview with Collider, Stevenson teased his new character’s relationship with Grand Admiral Thrawn, who makes his live-action debut in the series.
Condolences are flowing from Ray Stevenson’s peers in the industry, including James Gunn and his Rome costar James Purefoy. The Kiner Brothers, composers for Ashoka, responded to the news on Twitter this afternoon, claiming “His truly haunting performance in Ahsoka has a gravity that stunned us all. A great loss of a veteran artist and the craft is poorer for his absence.”
Ray Stevenson is survived by his spouse and three children. He will appear posthumously in Gateway to the West, currently in post-production, and Cassino in Ischia.