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In Memory Still Bright: Mira Furlan


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.

Joe Straczynski

What a great loss and such terrible news with which to start the day.

It’s a comfort to know that she is immortalized through her work and her contributions to Babylon 5, though. She’ll always exist out there amongst the stars and in the hearts of fans everywhere.
It's just awful. We've lost so many talented people in this show. it is like a curse.

She was a wonderful actress, and it's hit me hard.

And I admit channelling some real life here... she was three months younger than my mum (who has terminal cancer) so I feel very acutely how young she is and the fragility of this all.
This news has stayed with me all day, I genuinely found her fascinating to watch on B5 and always enjoyed her performances (which I am sure many of us here will say). About a year ago I tracked down a copy of her album and still have it on my iPod. I gave it a listen on my commute to work this morning, a sort of tribute I suppose. It feels strange to me that the last episode of B5 I watched was Chrysalis, on the day that Mira passed away no less. As Delenn transformed to the next stage of her existence, so did Mira. Sorry, I'm rambling a bit, I'm just trying to make sense of it all. :(
I feel like I should say something, but I just don't know how anymore. I've been feeling like there's too much death and threat of death around me lately, and I fear being overwhelmed by it all. It is so sad learning of this, and I couldn't help but to tear up at what jms wrote. Delenn was a fantastic character, and no one else could have performed the character but Mira Furlan.
I don't have words for how sad I feel about her passing. Just yesterday I pulled up on Youtube the clip of her in Severed Dreams advising her Earthforce adversary to "....be somewhere else."

I have often thought of both Delenn and Mira's stories giving me hope when I have felt a bit hopeless. I take comfort in the words she said so beautifully:

" Then I will tell you a great secret, Captain. Perhaps the greatest of all time. The molecules of your body are the same molecules that make up this station, and the nebula outside, that burn inside the stars themselves. We are starstuff. We are the universe made manifest, trying to figure itself out. And as we have both learned, sometimes the universe requires a change of perspective."

Rest In Peace, dear lady.

Wow. Words fail me. So many taken from us too soon.

Mira was one of the brightest stars in our sky. And now she rests in a place where no shadows fall.
The inimitable John Hudgens has posted a memorial video for Mira Furlan:

This wasn’t supposed to be made for years, if not decades.
Mira Furlan was not just a TV star to me - she was my friend. We’d always meet up for dinner or lunch when I was in LA, or if we appeared at a convention together - we even acted onstage together once. She’d joked with me about what kind of memorial I’d eventually do for her, and I always deflected, assuming that day was a long way off, if ever.
And so here we are today. My friend is gone. Within hours of the news, I was already getting messages asking, demanding I do another. It hurt too much - I wasn’t going to do it.
And then…. a random track played on my iPod’s soundtrack shuffle, and I started seeing connections, using that track. And then spent almost the entire weekend at my edit system.
We loved you, Mira. Your laugh, that smile that could light up a city - I’ll always miss you.

This has hit me much harder than expected. I do not wish to say curse, though I understand it feels that way. If anything, this show has been a blessing, and it's good to see the B5 family still close outside of the show.

Reading about her passion for art fueled by the turmoil of Yugoslavia is truly inspirational. She didn't just play Delenn, she pretty much was Delenn.

Without distracting from the topic, let's just say that I held this Delenn quote dear because it reminded me of my dad. Now it reminds me of him and Mira. May they both rest in peace.

What happens? What happens is that we honor the memory of those who are no longer with us by using what we have learned to save others. To exercise faith and patience and charity. To reach out to those who are afraid. If we can do that, then their passing will have had meaning and we will grow from it.
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That is so sad, she was too young. West Nile Virus is a tricky one, many people get it and never have symptoms so they never even know. But in rare cases it can be difficult to fight.
How am I just now seeing and hearing about this? That's so sad to read about. I had no idea she had been in bad health. The cast continues to dwindle far too soon.
Sad to hear.

As much as I could deciper from what I saw and read, Mira changed things for the better - both around her, and further away in the world. I appreciated and continue to appreciate her contribution.

For me, her performance in Babylon 5 (and also her songs and some interviews) were a source of much inspiration and support at the time, and occasionally much later also. I still remembered her clearly before accidentally coming here and reading the news. I actually hoped to perhaps see... if the people involved in B5 were doing any interesting projects, and whether she was still active or had retired.

This is indeed distressingly random in addition to plain sad, yet also statistically... not surprising. It reminds me of a conversation I overheard between two political activists (of here unspecified stripe and color) back a while ago. One asked the other if he didn't fear getting beaten up or entirely offed by opponents. The other replied that no - if he feared anything, it would be infections, because "that's the stuff that actually gets many people". Thus, I'm now experiencing a case of confirmation bias.

I wish that she could have stayed for longer.
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