Throughout her presentation, Mira Furlan was friendly, open, and engaging.
She spoke eloquently about leaving her home in the former Yugoslavia and moving to the United States seven years ago, when she did the Babylon 5 pilot. She had lost her audience, her country, and her language. When she began going to cons, one of the fans said to her, “Welcome to the family,” and she has since felt that she was “reborn in some way.” She enjoys the ongoing feedback she receives at the cons regarding her work.
How much did Mira contribute to the development of the character of Delenn?
Joe was in control of the characterizations, but she did have some input. However, playing the character the way the creator wanted it was part of her job.
Did you really call Joe [JMS] a WITCH?
“Yes, some things he wrote just spoke to me on a weird level, uncanny….[I began to think] he had a third eye… He’s a GOOD WITCH!”
Was this just another role or was there a “power” about being Delenn?
Mira said that in some ways, there was a really nice feeling about doing this particular role. However, she also said that the bottom line was that it was a job as well. Joe’s writing and the cast were incredible and it was a wonderful experience, but, like any other job, it had some ups and downs. Mira enjoyed working with the entire cast and had no real problems with any of them. She also enjoyed working with many of the guest stars as well.
Were you able to guess ahead about where Babylon 5 was going?
At the start each actor received a “bible” with a general outline for the series as a whole and for their character in particular. Even with this information, Mira really didn’t know what to expect in advance. Sometimes events surprised her or confused her, as her actions were not explained, and she wondered if her mysterious action would be cleared up in two years or so! After the character of Delenn was transformed, Mira requested that the character have eyebrows, as the adhesive used to cover hers was not only painful, but also damaging to her skin. Joe politely declined by saying “NO! No Minbari has eyebrows!” No amount of cajoling on her part could change his mind.
What were some of your favorite episodes?
A: Mira will “never forget the last episode, because it was so emotion-filled [for the characters.]” “Ship of Tears” was another favorite in the scenes with Andreas Katsulas. Mira didn’t realize from reading the script that the scene had so much emotional potential. She said, “Everything with Andreas is sooo intense.” This brought out the best in her, in her opinion.
How was B5 different from her previous work in her home country?
Mire said that the amount of makeup she had to wear was very unusual for her. In addition, filming in the US is very, very quick compared to how it was done in the former Yugoslavia.
Has Mira met the Crusade crew and will she appear in that show?
Mira has not met the crew, as most of the actors are new. She has not, at this time, been asked to reprise her role as Delenn for Crusade.
Was anything disappointing to you personally about doing the show?
Once John and Delenn were married, in her opinion, Season 5 lost a lot of the suspense. Mira did not have a lot to do in Season 5. She pointed out that this strong female character, leader of the Minbari, “ended up as a wife.” She admitted that this disposition bothered her.
What do you think was the best season?
“I felt like it was one huge episode.” I can’t really say, but it would be Season 2, 3, or 4.
If you had a choice of playing any role at all, what would your personal preference be?
In film, one can never know what role will offer itself. There are many famous characters she would enjoy playing in films. Mira would also enjoy returning to the stage, perhaps doing Chekov or Ibsen. She commented that as you get older, the roles remain primarily young.
If there were a sequel to Babylon 5, would you be interested in playing Delenn again?
“Yes, I would love to.” Mira would also like to do a project again one day in her native language. She has also done work in German and French.
Are there any movies made in the former Yugoslavia which are available in the US?
When Father Was Away on Business, made in 1985, is available here. It was one of the last movies made in her former country. It was a very beautiful movie, but not one of her favorites, as she felt her character was a victim of sexism in the movie. She said, “I have a problem with that. It’s not my best role.”
Do you plan to return to the former Yugoslavia any time soon?
Mira has no plans to return to her homeland at the present time, even though her father and some other relatives and friends still live there. She is in contact with these people. Her father and others are able to watch dubbed Babylon 5 episodes in the Croatian part of the country, but she has not had any responses from anyone there about how the show is being received. She did note that the program he views is dubbed in German, and the actress has a very high, “squeaky” voice, not at all like hers!
Is there a major difference between how movies are produced in the US as opposed to the former Yugoslavia?
Was it “different” being directed by other cast members, specifically Stephen Furst?
Mira said that Stephen was a professional director and the experience was not at all strange.
How did you feel when Delenn finally got to laugh on the show?
“I felt like Greta Garbo. It was a sweet little twist.”