Warning: This post contains SPOILERS for Ahsoka
Ahsoka boasts an impressive cast, with talented actors breathing life into beloved Star Wars Rebels characters in live-action. From Rosario Dawson and Mary Elizabeth Winstead to Ukrainian actor Ivanna Sakhno, the series showcases their acting prowess.
In the unfortunate event of an actor or crew member’s passing during filming or near a project’s release, it is customary for the team to pay tribute with an In Memoriam title card. In this article, we delve into the significance of the “For our friend Ray” In Memoriam in Ahsoka.
Ahsoka’s “For Our Friend Ray” In Memoriam Explained
In the concluding moments of Ahsoka’s first episode, titled Part One: Master and Apprentice, an In Memoriam title card emerges as the screen fades to black just before the credits begin rolling. The card carries a poignant message: “For our friend Ray.”
This heartfelt tribute is dedicated to the late Irish actor Ray Stevenson, a prominent cast member known for his portrayal of Dark Jedi Baylan Skoll in the series. Tragically, Stevenson passed away on May 21, 2023, just days before his 59th birthday. His passing occurred while he was filming in Italy on the island of Ischia, where he was suddenly rushed to the hospital. As a result, the actor’s role in the movie Cassino in Ischia was taken over by Dominic Purcell.
Ray Stevenson’s career commenced in the early ’90s with his role as a journalist in the series “A Woman’s Guide to Adultery.” Throughout the ’90s, he made appearances in miniseries like “The Dwelling Place,” “The Tide of Life,” and “Peak Practice.” Stevenson also left his mark on classic British television, portraying Laurence Haney in “Holby City” and Sgt. Gartland in “The Bill.”
However, Stevenson’s breakthrough into blockbuster films happened in 2004 when he portrayed Dagonet in “King Arthur.” His career continued to soar with a notable role in the series “Rome,” where he played Titus Pullo for an impressive 22 episodes. His filmography also includes memorable characters like Murlaugh in “Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant,” Redridge in “The Book of Eli,” Isaak Sirko in the series “Dexter,” and Othere in the series “Vikings.”
Stevenson also made significant appearances in the Marvel cinematic universe, first playing the titular mercenary Frank Castle in “Punisher: War Zone” in 2008. He lent his voice to The Punisher in the animated series “The Super Hero Squad” and tackled the role of Volstagg in several Marvel films, including “Thor,” “Thor: The Dark World,” and “Thor: Ragnarok.”
It’s worth noting that Ahsoka is not Stevenson’s first foray into the Star Wars universe. He previously provided the voice for Gar Saxon in both “Star Wars: Rebels” and “Star Wars: The Clone Wars.”
Ahsoka actor Rosario Dawson expressed her tribute to Stevenson on her Instagram following his untimely passing. She shared her profound sentiments, “A Giant of a man… Gone too soon from this world. 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. #LegendsNeverDie.”
The actor who portrays Baylan Skoll’s apprentice in Ahsoka, Ivanna Sakhno, also paid tribute to Stevenson on Instagram. Her words reflected the deep bond she shared with the late actor: “Ray… My heart is shattered, and I can’t fathom you not being here. My dear friend. My Master. A giant with an even bigger heart. You understood the infinite. Your love for life, your partner Elisabetta, and your three boys was unyielding. Knowing you in this lifetime has been one of my greatest gifts. I carry your light within me. Fly freely, Blackbird.”
Introducing Baylan Skoll
In Ahsoka, Baylan Skoll is an original character created for the series, and it’s revealed that he is a former Jedi Knight. This Force-sensitive human becomes an ally of the former Imperial Grand Admiral Thrawn, who survived the Great Jedi Purge and assumed the role of a mercenary during the New Republic era.
Baylan takes on the apprentice Shin Hati, portrayed by Ivanna Sakhno. After the revival of the Jedi Order under the guidance of Luke Skywalker, Shin becomes the apprentice of Baylan. She wields an orange-red Lightsaber with the distinctive traits of a Jedi weapon and possesses exceptional skills in telekinesis and using the Force push in combat.
The narrative unfolds with Baylan and Shin infiltrating a New Republic cruiser in the first episode of Ahsoka. Their mission involves freeing the witch Morgan Elsbeth from imprisonment after she was captured by Ahsoka. The trio’s objective is to discover the whereabouts of the exiled Grand Admiral Thrawn, enlisting the help of Morgan to recover the star map currently in the possession of Ahsoka’s former apprentice, Sabine Wren.
In the subsequent episode, after Shin secures the star map from Sabine, albeit leaving her injured, Baylan, Shin, and Morgan embark on a journey to Seatos. Their goal is to unlock the star map, which will reveal Thrawn’s location known as the “Pathway to Peridea.” This location references the “world
between worlds” introduced in the series finale of “Star Wars: Rebels.” To reach Thrawn’s location, Shin and Inquisitor Marrok are dispatched to retrieve a hyperdrive from a Corellian shipyard. However, their mission is complicated when they are pursued by General Hera Syndulla, who manages to plant a tracking device on their ship, ultimately setting the stage for Ahsoka and Sabine to join the pursuit.
The “For Our Friend Ray” In Memoriam in Ahsoka stands as a poignant tribute to a remarkable actor whose legacy will endure, both in the series and in the hearts of those who knew and appreciated his talent. Ray Stevenson’s contribution to the entertainment industry is celebrated, and this heartfelt remembrance ensures his memory lives on in the Ahsoka series and in the broader realm of film and television.