CLEVELAND — Ray Stevenson, the Irish actor who played the villainous British governor in "RRR," an Asgardian warrior in the "Thor" films, and a member of the 13th Legion in HBO's "Rome," has died. He was 58.
Representatives for Stevenson told The Associated Press that he died Sunday but had no other details to share on Monday.
Stevenson was born in Lisburn in 1964. After attending the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School and years of working in British television, he made his film debut in Paul Greengrass's 1998 film "The Theory of Flight." In 2004, he appeared in Antoine Fuqua's "King Arthur" as a knight of the round table and several years later played the lead in the pre-Disney Marvel adaptation "Punisher: War Zone."
Though "Punisher" was not the best-reviewed film, he'd get another taste of Marvel in the first three "Thor" films, in which he played Volstagg. Other prominent film roles included the "Divergent" trilogy, "G.I. Joe: Retaliation" and "The Transporter: Refueled."
A looming presence at 6-foot-4, Stevenson, who played his share of soldiers past and present, once said in an interview, "I guess I'm an old warrior at heart."
Here in Cleveland, Stevenson became known for his role in the 2011 Jonathan Hensleigh film "Kill the Irishman," where he played the starring role as notorious mobster Danny Greene. The film portrays the bloody war between associates of the Irish Greene and members of Cleveland's established Italian Mafia, which ultimately ended with Greene's death by car bombing in 1977.
"[Greene's] a violent man, a criminal, an enforcer, but [what's] fascinating is that its not a movie about gangsters and mobsters, but it's just about a guy who was on his own personal journey," Stevenson previously told Good Film Guide about the picture, which also starred Val Kilmer, Vincent D'Onofrio, and Christopherm Walker, "almost like a rights of passage, a grown-up's rights of passage (what we’re all looking for a sense of identity or whatever), and his journey just happens to be couched in this very violent world."
On the small screen, he was the roguish Titus Pullo in "Rome," a role that really got his career going in the United States and got him a SAG card, at the age of 44. The popular series ran from 2005 to 2007.
"That was one of the major years of my life," Stevenson said in an interview. "It made me sit down in my own skin and say, just do the job. The job's enough."
In the Variety review of "Rome," Brian Lowery wrote that "the imposing Stevenson certainly stands out as a brawling, whoring and none-too-bright warrior — a force of nature who, despite his excesses, somehow keeps landing on his feet.
He was Blackbeard in the Starz series "Black Sails," Commander Jack Swinburne in the German television series "Das Boot," and Othere on "Vikings."
Stevenson also did voice work in "Star Wars Rebels" and "The Clone Wars," as Gar Saxon, and has a role in the upcoming Star Wars live-action series "Ahsoka," in which he plays a bad guy, Baylan Skoll. The eight-episode season is expected on Disney+ in August.
In an interview with Backstage in 2020, Stevenson said his acting idols were, "The likes of Lee Marvin (and) Gene Hackman."
"Never a bad performance, and brave and fearless within that caliber," Stevenson said. "It was never the young, hot leading man; it was men who I could identify with."
Stevenson has three sons with Italian anthropologist Elisabetta Caraccia, who he met while working on "Rome."