Ray Stevenson – RRR, Thor and Star Wars actor – dies aged 58

Ray Stevenson – RRR, Thor and Star Wars actor – dies aged 58 –

Ray Stevenson, the Northern Irish actor who played the villainous British governor in RRR, Volstagg in the Thor films and a main antagonist in the upcoming Star Wars series Ahsoka, has died aged 58.

Representatives for Stevenson said he had died on Sunday, four days before his birthday. The Italian newspaper La Repubblica reported he had been hospitalised with a sudden illness on the island of Ischia, while in production on the film Cassino in Ischia.

Stevenson was born in Lisburn, Northern Ireland, in 1964. His family moved to England when he was eight. After attending the Bristol Old Vic theatre school and years of working in British television, he made his film debut in Paul Greengrass’s 1998 film The Theory of Flight. In 2004 he appeared in Antoine Fuqua’s King Arthur as a knight of the round table and several years later played the lead in the pre-Disney Marvel adaptation Punisher: War Zone.

Though Punisher was not the best-reviewed film, he had another taste of Marvel in the first three Thor films, in which he played the Asgardian warrior Volstagg. Other prominent film roles included the Divergent trilogy, GI Joe: Retaliation and The Transporter: Refueled.

A looming presence at 1.91m (six foot three) tall, Stevenson played his share of soldiers past and present; he once said in an interview, “I guess I’m an old warrior at heart.”

On the small screen he was the roguish Titus Pullo in the HBO series Rome, a role that really got his career going in the US and won him a SAG card at the age of 44. The series ran from 2005 to 2007.

“That was one of the major years of my life,” Stevenson said in an interview. “It made me sit down in my own skin and say, just do the job. The job’s enough.”

In the Variety review of Rome, Brian Lowery wrote that “the imposing Stevenson certainly stands out as a brawling, whoring and none-too-bright warrior — a force of nature who, despite his excesses, somehow keeps landing on his feet”.

He was Blackbeard in the Starz series Black Sails, Commander Jack Swinburne in the German television series Das Boot and Othere on Vikings.

Stevenson also did voice work in Star Wars Rebels and The Clone Wars, as Gar Saxon, and has a role in the upcoming Star Wars live-action series Ahsoka, in which he plays the bad guy Baylan Skoll. The eight-episode season is expected on Disney+ in August.

In an interview with Backstage in 2020, Stevenson said his acting idols were “the likes of Lee Marvin, Gene Hackman”.

“Never a bad performance, and brave and fearless within that calibre,” Stevenson said. “It was never the young, hot leading man; it was men who I could identify with.”

Stevenson has three sons with the Italian anthropologist Elisabetta Caraccia, who he met while working on Rome.

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