THERE'S a scene in A View from the Gallery, the fourth episode of Babylon 5's final season, in which maintenance man Mack observes Ambassador Delenn. "Did you see that smile?" he asks his colleague Bo. "It was like the sun coming out from behind a cloud."
Sitting in the studio during the filming of the story, and watching the cast and crew at work, one begins to suspect that Joe Straczynski was referring to Mira Furlan when he wrote that line. The actress smiles a lot, and it's a gentle, radiant smile that she shares equally with the crew, guest stars and visitors to the studio.
When I tell her that the smile is a welcoming sight in a Hollywood studio, Furlan seems surprised.
"I don't perceive myself as a smiling person, that's for sure!" she laughs, before becoming serious. "A smile sometimes comes from embarrassment. It can be a way to cover up your insecurity, or a void in a conversation, or not knowing how to approach another person or what to do.
"From time to time I notice that I'm smiling without any reason and I think, 'Why am I doing that? What am I trying to cover up?'"
If the smile is a sign of insecurity, then Furlan can take solace in the fact that, in Delenn, she has created one of the most popular and appealing characters in Science Fiction. Graced with excellent English and a rich European accent, Furlan brings incredible warmth and a range of unique qualities to the role. In five years she has developed the character from androgynous alien to a Minbari/Human hybrid, but she has always retained the same grace and dignity. Furlan has obviously relished the opportunity to play the part, but admits that it has not been the easiest of rides. Babylon 5's future has never been secure - and a year ago, it seemed that the show was over.
"Oh totally!" she says. "We were gone. We shot the last episode of the whole series and it was over as far as I was concerned."
Find out how Mira Furlan and Babylon 5 returned for a final season by reading the full interview in the new look issue of Cult Times (May 1998, #32), available now.
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