Leaving many fans in wonder with the question “Who is Ray in Ahsoka”, in a bittersweet moment, the “For our Friend Ray” message at the end of the premiere marked the fans’ tribute to late actor Ray Stevenson, who portrayed the formidable villain Baylan Skoll in the “Star Wars” series “Ahsoka”.
The emotional tribute unfolded at the conclusion of Episode 1, which made its debut on Disney+ this Tuesday.
Warning: Spoilers ahead for the first two episodes of Ahsoka.
Who is Ray in Ahsoka and what was the “For our friend Ray” message about?
Baylan takes center stage in these initial episodes, leaving an unforgettable mark as he ruthlessly takes down soldiers on a New Republic transport to free Morgan Elsbeth, played by Diana Lee Inosanto. As the second episode concludes, the orange-lightsaber wielding antagonist shows a surprising touch of melancholy about facing off against Anakin Skywalker’s former Padawan. “To kill her would be a shame,” he straightforwardly tells Elsbeth. “There are so few Jedi left.”
In the hands of Ray Stevenson, Baylan emerges as a gripping villain, blending brutality with contemplation—a standout addition to the franchise’s already extensive roster of antagonists. Tragically, Stevenson passed away before the world could witness his compelling portrayal.
A tribute to Ray Stevenson’s legacy
Stevenson’s untimely death at the age of 58 on May 21 shocked many. He was taken from the set of a movie he was shooting in Italy called Cassino in Ischia. In a touching tribute, Ahsoka’s premiere episode concludes by fading to black with the words “For our friend Ray.”
This tribute stands as a fitting homage to a man who shared his excitement about joining the live-action Star Wars universe in one of his final interviews. Stevenson, who also lent his voice to Mandalorian Gar Saxon in The Clone Wars, candidly admitted, “I must admit, the first time you turn a lightsaber on, you make the noise. [And then you’re like] ‘Oh, I’m so sorry.’ Everybody does that, but you just can’t help it!”
Embracing the awe of Ahsoka’s production
Stevenson also expressed his awe at every aspect of the Ahsoka production—costumes, set designs, and the camaraderie of the cast and crew. He marveled at the dedication from top to bottom, “Everybody works at such a pitch. I must admit that what I’m overwhelmed with overall is a humility of greatness from the top all the way down through every department — the hours put in, the quality of work — and you can’t wait to get back to set and see what’s going to be revealed that day.”
A tribute beyond the screen
The on-screen tribute at the episode’s conclusion isn’t the sole homage to the actor and his lasting impact on the Ahsoka set. Stevenson’s fellow cast members also contribute to this tribute. Ivanna Sakhno, who portrays his on-screen apprentice Shin, shared a close bond with Stevenson. She fondly recalled his habit of serenading her with a play on words, singing “Who let the Shin out” in a nod to the Baha Men’s hit.
After Stevenson’s passing, Sakhno spoke of their inseparability on set. “His impact on my life is immeasurable,” she said, her grief palpable. “And so is the ache of losing him.”
Diana Lee Inosanto, too, highlighted the significance of Baylan’s role to her late co-star and to the entire cast. “Ray really was so excited for this character to be released into the world. He was just an extraordinarily kind human being.”
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Featured image credit: Disney+