Who Is Ray in ‘Ahsoka’ Premiere? Ray Stevenson Tribute Explained

IN THE WORLD of Star Wars, the heroes get a lot of the hype—and for good reason. Luke Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and The Mandalorian, for just a couple examples, are great characters. Ahsoka Tano, now played by Rosario Dawson and leading Ahsoka, is a great character. But a great hero is not all it takes to make a great Star Wars story—the original Star Wars film trilogy wouldn’t have been what it was if it wasn’t for Darth Vader, Adam Driver keeps the sequel trilogy afloat with his performance as Kylo Ren, and the space fascist power combo of Dedra Meero and Syril Karn in Andor really stand to set that aside.

So when it comes to Ahsoka, it’s exciting to see that the show is already featuring a few different types of great villains. One is a major antagonist off in the distance: that’s Thrawn. Another is a middle-manager villain of sorts, in Morgan Elsbeth. But in Ray Stevenson’s character Baylan Skoll—a former Jedi with complete control of the force now working as a ruthless mercenary—we’ve got something entire different, and the kind of character we haven’t really seen before in Star Wars live-action.

Through two episodes of the new series, Baylan has shown to be super powerful, and seems to have a code of his own—though we don’t entirely know what that code is. He’s a former Jedi, yes, but much like our hero, Ahsoka, he’s turned his back on the Jedi Order. For that reason, it’s Baylan—and not the forthcoming Thrawn—who is being set up as Ahsoka’s mirror image villain foil.

And that character is being perfectly played, with just enough nuance and mystery, by the late Ray Stevenson. Stevenson, who was known for his roles in shows like HBO’s Rome and also appeared in the Thor movies and The Other Guys (among other big screen appearances), died far too early on May 22, at only age 58. That makes his compelling turn as Baylan in Ahsoka one of his final performances—and, by the end of the series, possibly one of his best.

In the time since Stevenson’s unfortunate passing, Ahsoka edited a dedication to him into the end of its very first episode. If anyone is wondering who the “Ray” being referred to is, it’s one of the best performers you watched in the last hour of Star Wars adventure fun.

Episode 1 of Ahsoka ends with a dedication to late star Ray Stevenson: “For our friend, Ray.”

star wars celebration 2023 ahsoka panel

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At the end of Ahsoka‘s first episode, text appears on screen—it reads: “For our friend, Ray.”

The Ray in question is, as we mentioned above, the late actor Ray Stevenson, who died at only 58 back in May. Stevenson plays one of Ahsoka‘s most interesting characters, the formed Jedi Baylan Skoll—and his loss is a huge one.

The “our friend” part of the episode dedication has been incredibly apparent.

Rosario Dawson, who plays Ahsoka Tano, paid tribute to Stevenson following news of his passing by posting a selfie of the two together on her Instagram. “A giant of a man… @officialraystevenson_ , stunned and reeling from this tragic, devastating news. Gone too soon from this world,” she wrote. “At a loss for words… just wanted to mark this moment and share your ever ready and present smile. Love you forever. Holding your family in my heart.”

Actress Ivanna Sakhno, who plays Baylan’s apprentice Shin Hati and frequently shares scenes with him in Ahsoka, also mourned the Irish actor in a post of her own. “My heart is shattered and I can’t fathom you not being here,” she wrote. “My dear friend. My Master. A giant with an even bigger heart.

Ray Stevenson was known for great work across different genres on both film and TV

ray stevenson baylan skoll ahsoka episode 1 tribute


Stevenson played a number of notable roles through the years, including several in major franchises and genre films that may be familiar to fans of Ahsoka and Star Wars. He played Volstagg (one of Thor’s friends in the Warriors Three) in the first three Thor movies of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but that wasn’t his first comic book role; he played Frank Castle/The Punisher in the 2004 film The Punisher: War Zone. He also appeared in 2004’s King Arthur, alongside Clive Owen, the three Divergent films, and in a fun rare comedy appearance in The Other Guys, alongside Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg.

He also made his mark on the small screen as well, long before Ahsoka. Stevenson played a major part of HBO’s Rome, an underrated but much-loved series for the premium cable giant. He also played Blackbeard in Black Sails, appeared in Season 7 of Dexter, and appeared as Ohthere of Hålogaland in Vikings.

In fact, playing Baylan Skoll in Ahsoka wasn’t even Stevenson’s first foray into the world of Star Wars—he previously provided the voice of Gar Saxon in both Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels.

Headshot of Evan Romano

Evan is the culture editor for Men’s Health, with bylines in The New York Times, MTV News, Brooklyn Magazine, and VICE. He loves weird movies, watches too much TV, and listens to music more often than he doesn’t.

This article was originally posted here.

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