Mira Furlan, the actress who was best known for her roles as Delenn on Babylon 5 and Danielle Rousseau on Lost, died on Wednesday, January 20. The news was confirmed by a message posted on her Twitter account, followed by a heartfelt tribute from Babylon 5 creator J. Michael Straczynski. “It is a night of great sadness, for our friend and comrade had gone down the road where we cannot reach her,” the creator tweeted. “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.” An official cause of death has not been revealed, but the creator and some of her colleagues have alluded to a history of “failing health.” She was 65.
Furlan was born in Zagreb, Croatia (formerly of Yugoslavia), where she nurtured her passion for acting through a number of stage, television and film. She played Ankica Vidmar in the film When Father Was Away on Business, which won the Palme d’Or at the 1985 Cannes Film Festival and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. After working in the Croatian film industry for years, the actress moved to New York in 1992 in order to escape civil unrest in Yugoslavia. There, she joined the Actors Studio, sparking a bicoastal U.S. stage career that allowed her to sharpen her skills in both NYC and Los Angeles. Furlan soon auditioned for a role in Babylon 5. Impressed by her courageous spirit and devotion to the craft, Straczynski tapped her to play the part of Minbari Ambassador Delenn for all five seasons of the popular sci-fi drama.
In the years between her time on Babylon 5 and her stint on Lost, Furlan maintained an international screen career, appearing in both American and European television, including some voice work in Spider-Man: The Animated Series, where she played mercenary Silver Sable. Outside of film and TV, Furlan had a humble presence in the video game industry, appearing in the likes of Payday 2, Uncharted 4, and Mafia: Definitive Edition. But as her colleagues note, Furlan will be mostly be remembered as a person with a kind, fiery spirit and an abiding love for honest, resonant artistry. She is survived by her husband, Gajić, and their son, Marko Lav Gajić.