Warning: This post contains SPOILERS for AhsokaAhsoka has an impressive roster of talented actors bringing beloved Star Wars Rebels characters to life in live-action, from Death Proof co-stars Rosario Dawson and Mary Elizabeth Winstead to Ukrainian actor Ivanna Sakhno.
Should the tragic event occur when an actor or crew member passes away during filming or near the project’s release, the team often honors that person with an In Memoriam title card at the end of an episode or movie. We explain the “For our friend, Ray” In Memoriam in Ahsoka.
Ahsoka’s “For Our Friend, Ray” In Memoriam Explained
At the end of Ahsoka episode 1, titled Part One: Master and Apprentice, an In Memoriam title card appears as the screen fades to black before the credits begin rolling, carrying the message “For our friend, Ray.”
This sentiment is for Irish actor Ray Stevenson, a prominent cast member who plays Dark Jedi Baylan Skoll in the series, who tragically passed away on May 21, 2023, just days before his 59th birthday. Stevenson was filming in Italy on the island of Ischia when he was rushed to hospital. The actor’s role in the movie Cassino in Ischia was later taken over by Dominic Purcell.
Stevenson’s career began back in the early 90s when he played a journalist in the series A Woman’s Guide to Adultery. Throughout the 90s, the actor appeared in the miniseries The Dwelling Place, The Tide of Life, and Peak Practice. Stevenson also appeared in classic British television, playing Laurence Haney in Holby City and Sgt. Gartland in The Bill. Stevenson broke into blockbusters in 2004 playing Dagonet in King Arthur, and he later picked up another period piece in the series Rome, where he played Titus Pullo for 22 episodes. Other notable roles include Stevenson's time playing Murlaugh in Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant, Redridge in The Book of Eli, Isaak Sirko in the series Dexter, and more recently, Othere in the series Vikings.
The actor also made notable appearances in Marvel projects, first playing the titular mercenary Frank Castle in 2008’s Punisher: War Zone, voicing The Punisher in the animated series The Super Hero Squad and then taking on Volstagg within Thor, Thor: The Dark World, and Thor: Ragnarok within the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Additionally, Ahsoka is not the first Star Wars project to be undertaken by Stevenson, as the actor supplied the voice for Gar Saxon in both Star Wars: Rebels and Star Wars: The Clone Wars.
Ahsoka actor Rosario Dawson posted a tribute to Stevenson on her Instagram soon after his death, sharing the following sentiment:
“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 plays Baylan Skoll’s apprentice in Ahsoka, Ivanna Sakhno, also shared a tribute to the late actor on Instagram:
“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 3 boys was unyielding. Knowing you in this lifetime has been one of my greatest gifts. I carry your light within me. Fly freely, Blackbird.”
Who Is Baylan Skoll?
Baylan Skoll is an original character created for the Ahsoka series and revealed to be a former Jedi Knight. The Force-sensitive human is an ally to the former Imperial Grand Admiral Thrawn, who survived the Great Jedi Purge and took up the role of mercenary during the New Republic era.
Baylan took on the apprentice Shin Hati (Ivanna Sakhno) after the Jedi Order was revived under the guidance of Luke Skywalker. Shin is another original character invented for the Ahsoka series, who wields an orange-red Lightsaber with the hallmarks of a Jedi weapon. Baylan’s apprentice is also skilled in telekinesis and the ability to command the Force push while in combat.
In episode 1 of Ahsoka, Baylan and Shin are introduced while infiltrating a New Republic cruiser in order to free the witch Morgan Elsbeth (Diana Lee Inosanto) from imprisonment after being captured by Ahsoka. The trio planned to locate the exiled Grand Admiral Thrawn’s whereabouts before the Jedi, enlisting the help of Morgan to recover the star map in possession of Ahsoka’s former apprentice Sabine Wren (Natasha Liu Bordizzo).
In episode 2, after Shin steals the star map from Sabine, leaving the apprentice injured during the conclusion of episode 1, Baylan, Shin, and Morgan travel to Seatos in order to unlock the star map and reveal Thrawn’s location to be the “Pathway to Peridea,” referencing the “world between worlds” from the series finale of Star Wars: Rebels. In order to reach Thrawn’s location, Morgan sends Shin and Inquisitor Marrok to retrieve a hyperdrive from a Corellian shipyard, only to be chased by General Hera Syndulla (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), who manages to get her droid Chopper to plant a tracking device on the ship for Ahsoka and Sabine to follow later.