Actor Mira Furlan has been reported by The Hollywood Reporter as having passed away at the tragically too-young age of 65 and for those fans who were fortunate enough to witness the beauty of her acting talent in popular projects such as Lost and Babylon 5 this marks a sad day indeed.
Sharing the same birthday as singer-songwriter Buddy Holly (September 7; Holly’s birth year was ’36, Furlan’s ’55) might very well have tickled this talented thespian who, along with being a reported rock and roll aficionado, also pulled double-duty as a singer herself. She was born in Yugoslavia to a Croatian-Jewish mother and, to give her even more international pedigree and mystique, to a father who could boast a Slovene-Croat background.
But acting was where Mira Furlan caught everyone’s attention: Her first bit of acting work was in a 1976 television movie called Knev. From that inauspicious start, she branched out and eventually broke through into more mainstream US and UK work with such projects as Babylon 5, Sheena, Night Stalker, NCIS and the pop cultural sensation Lost.
About that last credit of Lost, if you might permit me to go off the obit script momentarily: I breathed and lived that J.J. Abrams/Jeffrey Lieber/Damon Lindelof show along with a good part of the planet’s population when it first aired lo those many years back (from 2004 to 2010 if you’re looking for specific dates). Mira’s studied and conflicted portrait of a character named Danielle Rousseau was one of many highlights from that series. She played to tragic perfection a mother separated from her daughter and willing to do almost anything in order to be reunited with her. Mira really interjected a reality to what could easily have been a one-note character. Under the guiding hand of the writers, directors and Mira herself, however, Rousseau came to life and has indelibly etched its way into my mind’s eye. Yes, Mira Furlan was that good of an actor.
Furlan passed away in her home in Los Angeles this Wednesday at 65. According to her manager the cause of death was complications due to West Nile Virus.
Geeks such as myself also recall Mira from the wonderful and fun Babylon 5 and series creator J. Michael Straczynski eulogized her better than I ever could, releasing a statement following her passing, saying that “It is a night of great sadness, for our friend and comrade had 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.”
Poignantly, Mira was working on an autobiography before she passed away. Her manager Chris Roe was kind enough to share an excerpt with our friends at the Hollywood Reporter and we’re going to pass along her beautiful words to what fans of hers may be reading this right now. It serves as a fitting epitaph to one of my favorite actors…
“I look at the stars. It’s a clear night and the Milky Way seems so near. That’s where I’ll be going soon. ‘We’re all star stuff.’ I suddenly remember Delenn’s line from (Straczynski’s) script. Not a bad prospect. I am not afraid. In the meantime, let me close my eyes and sense the beauty around me. And take that breath under the dark sky full of stars. Breathe in. Breathe out. That’s all.”