The posthumous performance of Ray Stevenson in the Star Wars series Ahsoka is rightly praised, although his dialogue is somewhat limited in the series, which he makes up for with his commanding on-screen presence.
Stevenson’s portrayal of the force-sensitive character Baylan Skoll relies heavily on subtle facial expressions and his ability to emphasize certain words with specific emotions, essential given his character’s very limited script.
But it’s all pretty sad for anyone watching, as earlier this year Stevenson shockingly passed away just days before his 59th birthday.
During the filming of the film, he suffered from severe chest pain Cassino in May 2023 in Italy. He was rushed to hospital, but his chest pain worsened and he died the next day. An actual cause of death has not yet been announced.
One of Stevenson’s many memorable roles was as the infamous pirate Edward Teach, better known as Blackbeard, in the award-winning Starz series Black sails.
In the series, Teach returns to seek out another pirate, Charles Vane, with whom he had worked and mentored on many adventures, but who had also wronged him the last time they saw each other. However, Teach did not return to take revenge on Vane, but rather sought him out to reunite with him. Why? Because Stevenson is portrayed so perfectly in the series, Teach has a certain soft spot for Vane and sees him as the son he never had, which he eventually tells his fellow pirate.
Surprised by Teach’s sentimentality, Vane agrees to work with Teach again, but on Vane’s terms. Teach becomes a great help to Vane’s immediate goals.
Playing a fearsome pirate with a bit of heart isn’t easy for any actor, but Ray Stevenson delivered an exemplary performance. His role as a sword villain with complicated emotions probably also served him well in his role as Baylan Skoll, a lightsaber villain with complicated emotions.
However, Black sails wasn’t the first time he portrayed a swordsman. Stevenson played Porthos in the 2011 film The Three Musketeers, which deviates greatly from its source – a literary classic courtesy of Alexandre Dumas. In fact, at one point in the film the Musketeers become pirates and even land in the sky on zeppelin-like balloons. It’s really quite unique, although I personally prefer the BBC’s 2014-17 series of the title The Musketeerswhich Black sails happens to feel a lot more similar, especially in terms of its depiction of the era.
In episode XXIV of Black sailsTeach reveals the most motivating reason for wanting to forgive and reconnect with Vane.
Teach is asked by a woman who knows him all too well what has suddenly changed his opinion of Vane.
Stevenson then delivered his lines with a natural urgency that is perhaps unusual in the series about marauding pirates. “Things are different now. It doesn’t have to last long.”
Teach then follows his cryptic statement with another explanation as he points to just above his heart. “A small piece of Spanish shrapnel. It went in there when I wasn’t much older than him. Every now and then it wanders, ticking towards its end point and striking its chime.” Teach finishes his explanation by bringing his fingers an inch or two from his heart.
Teach only had a short time left before his heart would suffer and fail him. Unfortunately, watching the scene now, it’s hard not to think of Stevenson’s untimely death and the chest pain he felt as his heart failed.
“A gloomy little clock.” Teach tells the woman, although he is all too aware of his own mortality.
The scene, filmed in 2015, can be a haunting memory for all of us. It’s only a matter of time before we meet our respective mortals, and that unwelcome encounter could come much sooner than we expect.
Still, Ray Stevenson was kind enough to leave us decades of such impressive scenes and other more joyful works, many of them without the depiction of a swordsman. He may have left this world, but the same goes for his Ahsoka Character Baylan Skoll – who not only traveled to another world, but also to another galaxy.
Maybe that’s the direction we’re all headed.