With the Lost finale airing this weekend, I thought I might post this very appropriate interview, since the subject, Mira Furlan, has been surprisingly absent from the show since her character’s death, with another actress playing her role in recent flashbacks. Mira played the role of Danielle Rousseau, one of the unsung heroes of the show.
Fans grew to follow this intriguing character as she developed throughout the show, until she was suddenly killed off in the middle of the fourth season. What makes somewhat controversial, is the producers of the show publicly stated that she wanted to leave the show, which is why her character’s story ended the way it did.
But when I had the chance to interview her at Farpoint this year, her explanation was a very different.
Before the interview, I found Mira didn’t start out her career like most actresses, but had an amazing and almost unbelievable back-story of love, war and survival. So sit back and enjoy an interview with one of the most interesting actors to appear on Lost.
I read that you’re are originally from Zakhaev, Yugoslavia; where you were a member of the Croatian National Theatre. Could you tell us a bit of about your journey as a theatre actor moving to film and television, in pre-war Yugoslavia?
It’s a huge, huge theme. I began work in theatre, almost immediately as I was still a student at the Academy of Dramatic Arts. I got a job in TV and I got a TV movie, which kind of put me on the map there. From then on I started doing television and theatre at the same time.
I did my first theatrical film fairly late, I was 24, maybe 25. I immediately got the main film award in Yugoslavia for it, and from then on I was working non-stop. Then bad things happened, but that’s life – good things, bad things and somehow you try to survive through all of them; because sometimes good things are really bad things in disguise.
In what was then Yugoslavia, I did a TV series that was immensely popular. That actually created problems for me, people were calling me by that name, they were completely identifying me with that character and I was doing very serious work in theatre, playing all the classics, so I was bothered by the fact that people didn’t take this other work seriously.
The usual problems of actors, what you do and what you put out, and what people get out of it. Which is all a matter of their prospective and their perception and you can’t really influence it. So sometimes there are those dichotomies.
More after the jump!
So you immigrated to the US in 1991. What was the transition like going from an award winning actress in Yugoslavia, to kind of starting over in the American entertainment industry?
It was interesting, somebody said ‘How does it feel to become a nobody from somebody over night?’ That’s how it feels. You completely lose your identity which already was very volatile, as we talked about. But it was very dramatic getting out of the country, because my situation was very complicated.
I lived all over the place and I worked all over the place, and the country was at war. My husband lived in a different city, in Belgrade, and I lived in Zagreb primarily, and these two countries were at war. Basically the life that we wanted to live became impossible, because of the hatred, the war propaganda, it was so poisoning to every sphere of life; I didn’t want to be a part of that.
As an actress that everybody knew, I was put in a position where each side wanted me, they wanted to use me as tool in their propaganda war. First they create it virtually, then they take arms and shoot at each other. The war was created somewhere else.
That became unbearable to me, so we decided to take our five suitcases and leave, which was very adventurous, from this perspective, now. It was brave, but also very crazy. It’s a complete change and a loss of identity, that’s what so hard.
Starting over in the America was not easy. The country was big and the entertainment industry is very cruel and superficial. They want a very quick label that can be put on each face, and that’s what makes it easy for them to use you as they say. I hate that expression – that actors are used. It’s a struggle. I auditioned for the Babylon 5 pilot, very soon after I came to America and I was pretty lucky to land the role. It was beginners luck, I see it now clearly..
After you landed Bablyon 5, were you back on the fast track again?
Well, Babylon 5 happened and lasted for 5 years. Which was amazing, just amazing, one of those good things that sometimes happen. I had to deal with the make up, I was so used to going from one project to the next, and also I missed theatre very much. I still do, that was the basis of my acting profession, and in my acting world in America, I can’t find that, it doesn’t function in the same way as in Europe. It’s a constant search for that anchor.
So, how did you land the role of Danielle Rousseau in Lost and what was it like working with such a great cast and living in Hawaii?
I landed it on just a regular audition. I went to this audition and it was just supposed to be just one or two episodes. But then they obviously needed that role for the story, so I was occasionally in Hawaii, which was the most beautiful places on earth. It was wonderful to work with Naveen, especially with him, and I had a little chance to work with Terry O’Quinn, who is one of the most wonderful actors in existence. It was nice. The show is now ending, so we’ll see what will happen next.
What are your thoughts of your death on the show? Some of your fans were disappointed seeing your character meet a somewhat premature end, before proper resolution could have been made for your character.
I didn’t feel happy. It’s too bad, I thought that the character was so great, I loved playing that character and there was so much in that character. I just, I’ll just regret all those things weren’t developed, that’s my sadness about that.
There was a rumor that you chose to leave the show, is that true at all?
No, that’s not true at all. I don’t know where this is coming from, I loved being on the show and loved playing that role.
Danielle was a very complex character, and that evolved over the life of the show. When we first met her we think she is this very savage woman, but as we get to know her in her struggle we begin to empathize with her quite a bit and we find out that she is one of the few characters without a checkered past, one of the pure characters if you will.
As an actress was it hard to portray that evolution?
It was always present from the very beginning, the pain and the purity, the good intentions. I never saw her as this dangerous or even evil character, there was always much more to it. I didn’t see it as an evolution, I saw it from the beginning already.
I think a chance was lost with that character, I’m really disappointed and angry with those rumors, because I don’t know where they are coming from. Maybe it’s just an easy way to dismiss them.
What were some of the experiences you drew upon as an actress to portray that role?
Oh you know – my whole life. You draw from your life, you know. And I had a lot of stuff to draw, nothing specific, but everything that happened to me, and I tried to play with that.