Dracula Untold star Luke Evans has led tributes to the “kind, loving and full of life” actor Ray Stevenson.
Northern Irish thespian Stevenson – known for films including Thor and Punisher – died on Sunday aged 58, though no further details were immediately made available.
He starred as Porthos in the 2011 film The Three Musketeers – alongside Evans, Matthew Macfadyen and Milla Jovovich – and appeared in Divergent with Kate Winslet and Zoe Kravitz in 2014.
Evans shared a photograph of himself with Stevenson on the set of The Three Musketeers to Instagram, with the caption: Goodbye my friend.”
He added: “You were a kind and loving human, full of life and energy, you were the giant who I stood by and admired.
“I will miss your bear hugs and your contagious laughter.
“My love I’m sending to you Betta and your wonderful family. Rest in power Big bro x #raystevenson.”
Stevenson starred in many television shows, including as soldier Titus Pullo in the BBC/HBO series Rome from 2005-2007, as well as a spin-off series for the Star Wars franchise.
He appeared more recently as the villainous Governor Scott Buxton in the 2022 Oscar-winning Bollywood film RRR.
Actor James Purefoy, who portrayed Mark Antony in Rome, tweeted: “So sad to hear the news that Ray Stevenson, our Pullo in Rome, has passed away.
“A brilliant, gutsy, larger-than-life actor who filled every part he played right up to the brim. My thoughts are with his family, his lovely wife Betta and their beautiful kids. What a loss.”
Replying to Purefoy’s tweet, Star Wars actor Mark Hamill shared a broken hearted emoji, while TV presenter Lorraine Kelly said: “Oh James. I’m so very sorry to hear this.
“I loved Ray as Pullo – he was a brilliant actor and a lovely man. So incredibly sad.”
Guardians Of The Galaxy director James Gunn tweeted: “Damn. So sorry to hear about the passing, far too young, of Ray Stevenson.
“I only knew him a little from shooting post-credits of Thor 2 & a couple interactions at events, but we had some good laughs & he was a joy to work with.”
Stevenson began his career on TV in the 1990s before landing action roles in Hollywood films starting in the 2000s.
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.
In 2008, he landed the lead role in Marvel’s Punisher: War Zone, playing 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 as Asgardian warrior Volstagg in Thor, Thor: The Dark World and Thor: Ragnarok.
Stevenson also held various roles in the Star Wars universe, lending his voice to Disney’s popular Mandalorian series.
At the 2023 Star Wars celebration in London, it was announced he would appear in the upcoming Ahsoka series.
Marvel said: “The incredibly talented actor, and long-time Marvel friend, Ray Stevenson has sadly passed away at the age of 58.”
It said his Volstagg “brought both humour and action to the Thor films” and added: “Marvel extends our condolences to Stevenson’s family, friends, and fans all over the world.”
The Peter Mayhew Foundation, set up by the late actor who played Chewbacca in the Star Wars films, tweeted: “We are sad to hear of the passing of Ray Stevenson.
“You may recognise 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.”