Northern Irish King Arthur, Punisher and Star Wars universe actor Ray Stevenson dies aged 58

Lisburn man starred in films including King Arthur and The Three Musketeers

Actor Ray Stevenson Newsdesk

Northern Irish actor Ray Stevenson — known for films including King Arthur and Punisher — has died just days short of his 59th birthday.

Stevenson, who was born in Lisburn, died on Sunday although no further details have been released about the cause of his death.

Responding to the news, movie studio DVV Entertainment, the company behind epic Bollywood movie RRR, which saw Stevenson play the role of Governor Scott Buxton, tweeted: “What shocking news for all of us on the RRR movie team.

“Rest in peace Ray Stevenson. You will stay in our hearts forever, Sir Scott.”

The film won the Academy Award for Best Original Song in this year’s Academy Awards, making it the first Indian song to win at the Oscars.

Stevenson also starred in multiple television shows, including as soldier Titus Pullo in the BBC/HBO series Rome from 2005 to 2007, and a spin-off series for the Star Wars franchise.

His first major role came in Antoine Fuqua’s 2004’s movie King Arthur, alongside Clive Owen, Ray Winstone and Keira Knightley. The actor played Dagonet, one of the knights of the Round Table.

He starred as Porthos in the 2011 film The Three Musketeers, alongside Luke Evans, Matthew Macfadyen and Milla Jovovich, and was in Divergent with Kate Winslet and Zoe Kravitz in 2014.

In 2008, Stevenson landed the lead role in Marvel’s Punisher: War Zone, where he played the titular character and his alias Frank Castle — becoming the third actor to do so onscreen.

He later appeared in other films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) as Asgardian warrior Volstagg in Thor, Thor: The Dark World and Thor: Ragnarok.

The Peter Mayhew Foundation, set up by the actor who played Chewbacca in the Star Wars films, tweeted: “We are sad to hear of the passing of Ray Stevenson.

“You may recognize Ray as Baylon Skoll from the upcoming Ahsoka show on Disney+. You may also remember his work as the voice of Mandalorian super commando Gar Saxon in The Clone Wars. Our sincerest condolences to his family.”

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph in 2008, Stevenson revealed he was bullied while growing up in England because of his Ulster roots.

Stevenson was born in Lisburn where his soldier father was stationed, but when the family later moved to England he was beaten up by schoolmates who linked him to the IRA.

He recalled: “It was during the Troubles that dad decided we should move to Newcastle.

“When I was between nine and 13 I was bullied on a regular basis.

“The IRA was in the news, and because we’d lived in Northern Ireland I was labelled an IRA kid.

“I had the s**t kicked out of me on a regular basis and even though I can look back on it now and say there was no damage done, it was pretty miserable.”

And in 2013, he described the enjoyment that came with playing a villain.

He said: “Baddies don’t think they’re baddies. Nobody wakes up in the morning and thinks, ‘I’m going to be bad today’.

“But you know what? They are so much fun. I think it takes a really good guy to play a really good bad guy.”

He also enthused at the experience of acting alongside Hollywood A-lister Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson.

The pair appeared together in GI Joe; Retaliation, alongside the likes of Channing Tatum and Bruce Willis. “It was great because he’s a trained athlete and the fight sequences were just a dream to do,” he said.