How Star Wars spin-off Ahsoka pays touching tribute to late actor Ray Stevenson
Star Wars spinoff Ahsoka debuted with its first two episodes on August 22 as they were released on Disney+, and paid tribute to its star Ray Stevenson.
At the end of episode 1, the screen went black before revealing the words: ‘For our friend, Ray.’
Stevenson died at 58 years of age on May 21, while filming Cassino In Ischia in Italy, having already completed the Ahsoka role.
His character Baylan Skoll is central to the first two episodes, being pitted against the show’s title character Ahsoka Tano – played by Rosario Dawson.
He told Entertainment Weekly shortly before he died that he found filming ‘incredible,’ and that ‘you can’t wait to get back to set and see what’s going to be revealed that day.’
Touching: Episode 1 of Star Wars spin-off Ahsoka ends with a tribute to its late star Ray Stevenson, who died after filming was complete
Key part: Stevenson, (pictured), plays the villain of the series, Baylan Skoll, who is central to the first two episodes – which were released on August 22
The Irish actor’s character had an all-action start to the series, massacring soldiers on a New Republic transport to free Morgan Elsbeth (Diana Lee Inosanto), who was on her way to stand trial.
His importance to the plot is reflected by an eye-catching orange lightsaber – a live action first in the Star Wars universe – which Ivanna Sakhno’s character Shin Hati also boasts.
After Stevenson died, Sakhno told EW: ‘His impact on my life is immeasurable, and so is the ache of losing him.’
At the end of the second episode, Baylan seems reluctant to take on Anakin Skywalker’s former, saying: ‘To kill her would be a shame, there are so few Jedi left.’
New episodes will continue to be released every Tuesday at 6pm PT, which is 9pm ET and 3am BST, until the finale drops on October 3.
Stevenson had previously worked in the Star Wars franchise as a voice actor in The Clone Wars (2020) as Gar Saxon.
He also appeared in The Three Musketeers, Marvel’s Thor movies, and Amazon Prime Video’s Vikings.
The thespian was born in Lisburn, Northern Ireland May 25, 1964, the second of three sons to a Royal Air Force pilot and his wife.
The family moved to England when he was eight, and he enrolled in the Bristol Old Vic Theater School once he was an adult, graduating at age 29, to kickstart his career.
Enthusiastic: The Irish actor spoke of how much he enjoyed filming the new series shortly before he died – pictured in April