Ray Stevenson, the actor best known for his roles in Thor, Rome, and Star Wars, died on May 21, 2023, at the age of 58. He was working on a new movie, Cassino in Ischia, when he fell ill and had to be hospitalized. His publicist confirmed his death but did not reveal the cause. However, according to various sources, Stevenson had been diagnosed with cancer and was undergoing treatment. Here is what we know about his cause of death and his career.
A Private Struggle with Cancer
According to Variety, Stevenson’s cause of death has not been officially announced, but the outlet was able to confirm it with his publicist. He passed away on May 21, 2023, four days before his 59th birthday.
However, according to information from Italian media, while he was on the set of the film, in Ischia, the health of the actor was not in good shape. La Repubblica stated that on Saturday, May 20, Ray Stevenson “fell ill and had to be hospitalized.” They added:
“The actor had been suffering from cancer for some time and was undergoing treatment. He had arrived in Ischia a few days ago to shoot some scenes of the film Cassino in Ischia, directed by Marco Risi.”
Stevenson had kept his diagnosis and treatment private and did not reveal it to the public. He continued to work on several projects that were unreleased before his death. He is set to star as Baylan Skroll, a former Jedi turned to the dark side who allies with Grand Admiral Thrawn, in Disney+’s Ahsoka. His other posthumous credits will include films 1242: Gateway to the West and Cassino in Ischia.
A Versatile and Talented Actor
Stevenson was born in Northern Ireland but moved to England when he was eight years old. His father was stationed with the Royal Air Force (RAF) near Lisburn, County Antrim, at the time of his birth in 1964. His family relocated to Newcastle upon Tyne and he spent much of his childhood in England.
Stevenson was inspired to become an actor after seeing John Malkovich in a play at a West End theatre in London. He studied acting at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School and one of his first TV roles was in the Catherine Cookson drama The Dwelling Place.
He later appeared in a wide range of British TV shows including Waking the Dead, Dalziel and Pascoe and At Home with the Braithwaites.
In 2004, he played a knight in the big-budget Hollywood film, King Arthur, which starred Keira Knightley. More recently, Stevenson secured roles in successful US-made TV shows and movies, taking the role of Volstagg in the Thor trilogy and Titus Pullo in HBO’s historical drama series Rome.
He also starred as Frank Castle/The Punisher in 2008’s The Punisher: War Zone, as Marcus Eaton in the Divergent series, as Blackbeard in Starz’s Black Sails, as Oleg Malankov in The Transporter Refueled, as Bjorn Ironside in History’s Vikings, and as Isaak Sirko in Showtime’s Dexter.
He also lent his voice to several animated shows and video games, such as Star Wars Rebels, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Killzone, Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, and Horizon Zero Dawn.
A Gentle Giant Remembered by His Co-Stars
Stevenson’s co-stars have been paying tribute to the late actor on social media. English actor James Purefoy, who starred alongside Stevenson in Rome, described him as a “brilliant, gutsy, larger-than-life actor who filled every part he played right up to the brim.”
Rosario Dawson – who will appear in the Ashoka series alongside Stevenson – posted on Instagram to say her co-star was a “giant of a man” whose death left her “stunned and reeling.”
“I’m so grateful for our time together on Ahsoka. You were such a gentle soul with a wicked sense of humor and a warrior’s spirit. You made every moment count and I will cherish them always. Rest well my friend.”
Other celebrities who expressed their condolences included Kevin Feige, Jon Favreau, Dave Filoni, Rosamund Pike, Ray Liotta, Dominic West, Kevin McKidd, Ioan Gruffudd, Clive Owen, Stellan Skarsgård, Tom Hiddleston, Chris Hemsworth, and Natalie Portman.
Ray Stevenson was a beloved actor who left behind a legacy of memorable performances and a loyal fan base. He will be greatly missed by his family, friends, colleagues, and fans. May he rest in peace.