Mira Furlan, Lost and Babylon 5 actress, dies at 65
The Twitter account for Furlan announced the news on Thursday, and her manager, Chris Roe, confirmed the cause of death in a statement to EW.
"It is with great sadness that I confirm the passing of Mira Furlan," Roe said. "She was a woman full of kindness, strength, and compassion. Mira passed away on Wednesday, Jan. 20, following complications from West Nile virus. She died peacefully at her home in Los Angeles, surrounded by her family. We will all continue to celebrate her life and legacy, and know she'll always be here with us."
J. Michael Straczynski, the creator of Babylon 5, penned an in memoriam tribute for Furlan that he shared over social media. He recalled the time she came to audition for the sci-fi series, which ran for five seasons starting in 1994.
"When Mira Furlan came to audition for Babylon 5, her home country of Yugoslavia was in turmoil and shattering into two separate countries," Straczynski wrote. "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."
Furlan was known for her film, TV, and stage work in Yugoslavia before she emigrated to the United States in 1981. She starred in 1985's When Father Was Away on Business, which received Golden Globe and Oscar nominations for best international film. She would land her role as Babylon 5's Minbari ambassador just a few years later in 1993.
Straczynski said how he "tried to write speeches for her" on the show as Delenn "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," he said, "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?' "
In 2004, Furlan debuted what would become another popular role among American audiences, Danielle, on the ninth episode of Lost's first season. Series creator Damon Lindelof shared in a statement on Instagram, "Danielle Rousseau moves into the light. Rest In Peace, Mira… we are deeply grateful for all you did to protect the island."
Furlan was last seen on screen in the 2020 web series Space Command.
She is survived by husband Goran Gajić and their son Marko.