Sad news from JMS:
It is a night of great sadness, for our friend and comrade has gone down the road where we cannot reach her. But as with all things, we will catch up with her in time, and I believe she will have many stories to tell us, and many new roles to share with the universe.
In Memoriam: Mira Furlan
When Mira Furlan came to audition for Babylon 5, her home country of Yugoslavia was in turmoil and shattering into two separate countries. During our first meeting, we spoke about her work and her life, and I learned that she had been part of a touring theater group that continued to cross borders of the disintegrating country despite receiving death threats from both sides in the civil war.
I expressed my admiration for her courage, but she shrugged and waved it off. “What’s the worst that could have happened? Yes, they could have killed me. So what? Art should have no borders.”
Very few people knew that side of Mira: the fiery, fearless side that fought ceaselessly for her art. She brought all of those traits to Delenn, and in turn I tried to write speeches for her that would allow her to comment on what was happening to her homeland without calling it out by name. I guess I must have done it correctly because one day during the Minbari Civil War arc, she appeared in my office door, a cup of tea in one hand, in full makeup but wearing a pull-over robe from wardrobe, and said, “So, how long did you live in Yugoslavia?”
Her husband, Goran, has always been the rock of her life. He was and is a gentleman, quick to laughter, an accomplished director and as much an artist as Mira, which made them the ideal couple. I’ve rarely seen two people so utterly meant for each other.
I remember the first time Mira appeared at a convention with me and some of the other cast. She didn’t quite understand what it was all about, but gamely did her part. When the audience question period came along, a fan held up his hand and said to Mira, whose Yugoslavian accent was much stronger in the beginning than it became with time, “Say ‘moose and squirrel.’”
She had no idea what this meant, but she said “Moose and Squirrel” and the room erupted in one of the longest sustained laughs I’ve ever seen at a convention. We explained it later, but really, all that mattered to her was that the audience had been happy.
We’ve known for some time now that Mira’s health was failing…I’m not sure that this is the right time or place to discuss the sheer randomness of what happened…and have all been dreading this day. We kept hoping that she would improve. In a group email sent to the cast a while back, I heard that she might be improving.
Then came the call from Peter Jurasik. “I wanted you to know that Goran’s bringing Mira home,” he said.
“Do you mean, he’s bringing her home as in she’s better now, or is he bringing her home as in he’s bringing her home?”
“He’s bringing her home, Joe,” Peter said, and I could hear the catch in his voice as he said it.
And as a family, we held our counsel, and began the long wait, which has now ended.
Mira was a good and kind woman, a stunningly talented performer, and a friend to everyone in the cast and crew of Babylon 5, and we are all devastated by the news. The cast members with whom she was especially close since the show’s end will need room to process this moment, so please be gentle if they are unresponsive for a time. We have been down this road too often, and it only gets harder.
If you are a fan of Mira’s work, fire up those special moments when she shook the heavens, and relive the art she brought to her work. For any actor, that is the best tribute possible: for the work to endure. As much as this is a time to grieve, it is also a time to celebrate her life and her courage.
All of our thoughts tonight will be on the memories she left behind, the dazzling light of her performances, the breadth of her talent, and the heart and love she shared with Goran, and with all of you.