TERMINATOR's Summer Glau: Everyone’s Favorite Robot

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles star Summer Glau is finally garnering the attention she deserves. Now read what the girl has to say for herself!

No doubt we’ve all seen Summer Glau’s face emblazoned across a TV or print ad by now, and possibly our favorite picture would have to be the half-naked/half-machine picture (shown below-right) . And no, it isn’t just because there are naked breasts somewhere underneath that hair, although that is playing at least a small part in many males’ decision making processes. But what did Summer have to say about that photo shoot? “I was going to be naked and I wasn’t going to have any legs, and my guts were going to be hanging out.  I was trying to act excited, but I was terrified.  I thought, oh my gosh, this sounds so scary, and I’m going to be up on a billboard looking like that.”

Summer Glau is, as I said, finally garnering the attention she deserves, but not many people realize she’s been around for a little bit. For many, Terminator is the first they are seeing of her; and that isn’t a summermachinesurprise considering that her previous roles were a ballerina caught in a groundhog-day scenario and a psychotic telepath in the future.

Of course, I am referring to her one episode appearance in Joss Whedon’s Angel and her short-lived life as River Tam on Whedon’s Firefly¸ and subsequent movie-sequel, Serenity. River got to showcase her crazy-assed fighting skills in Serenity, which ended in a scene that will – in many minds – go down as the greatest scene in science fiction history (River, as the doors open, standing there holding two blades both dripping with blood, dead men spread around the floor).

But how did she get to play a ballerina on Angel and get so seriously awesome at the fighting? Well being a professional ballet dancer helps.

“That’s what I want to do in my next life! Ballet is the hardest thing for a young girl to grow up doing. It’s strange to look back and realize that was my entire life. I woke up and I went dancing. There are countless stories about what my friends went through and what I went through. I didn’t go to school. I stayed home and did correspondence because I was working during the day. At the time, I thought it would be the end of the world if I had to be a normal girl.”

As for how she made it from ballet to the LA movie scene? “It’s a very cliché thing to happen, but I wound up getting hurt, and I wasn’t trained to do anything else. I came to Los Angeles and did tango dancing for a year. I couldn’t dance on point anymore, so I couldn’t be a ballet dancer. So I ended up acting.”

As for whether those same skills help out with the frenetic action scenes in Serenity, or the more power based fight scenes in Terminator? “Absolutely! We move very quickly. It’s not like a film, where you do fight scenes over and over again. You have to come on the day and be ready. The guys I work with learn it like a dance. It’s all in counts. It’s all choreographed. I appreciate that the guys don’t mind learning it like that. It makes it so much easier for me.”

But what about all those science fiction roles she keeps landing; Angel, Firefly, Serenity, the 4400? “They keep finding me! “Firefly” was the first series regular role I ever auditioned for. After that, I felt like the sci-fi fans were so loyal—they really follow their actors and actresses. It seemed like a natural progression to continue on in that vein. I feel like sci-fi is a good fit for me. [But] it’s hard, too. When I play roles like [“Firefly’s”] River Tam, it’s hard for me to understand what a psychic crazy person is like.”

“It is sort of a small world. Those actors that are in sci-fi shows tend to make an easy transition into other sci-fi shows.” But Summer Glau is more than just an actor looking for her next role when it comes to her science fiction penchant. “It’s interesting, and of course I’ve always been a fan of science fiction. I would say more of books. When I was little, my mom used to always read us science fiction, and I think that it did a great service to me in developing my imagination.


“I think sci-fi actors have to have a very vivid imagination. Playing River was difficult because I don’t know what it’s like to be a psychic and I don’t know what it’s like to be a government experiment and live on a spaceship and fly around in space. You have to really go there as an actor, and it’s not as easy as playing someone that might be your friend or someone that might be your sister. It’s very different.

“I think that sci-fi actors in general are very imaginative, creative people, and it’s been really fun for me. I’ve loved it. I’ve loved being a sci-fi actress.”

Coming in to the Terminator world would have been a scary feeling, if not for her background in sci-fi. But even more than that, Summer wasn’t reimagining a character already portrayed, compared to Lena Headley and Thomas Dekker, portraying Sarah and John Connor respectively.

259211201_9e8f1dc5a6_o“I think that Lena and Thomas have done an amazing job, and they’re both very brave actors and very independent and strong. And so I completely trust their version of their characters. But for me, it was easier, I have to say. People still ask me about Arnold Schwarzenegger and how does that feel to be the new terminator. I can laugh about it because no one can possibly compare me to him. He is an icon, and I’m doing something really different, so it is a relief for me.

“But I will say that I’m only one person who is working on this character [Cameron]. It’s an entire team that helps me shape Cameron. Josh Friedman created her and then the writers develop her from episode-to-episode. And even Joel Cramer, our stunt coordinator, helps me decide how Cameron moves and how she fights. So I always take comfort in the fact that I have people around me who are helping me make decisions about who she is, and I’m getting more and more comfortable.”

All in all, as an Australian who has yet to view the show yet, I am really looking forward to it. It is one of those things that, even if the show isn’t up to 100%, I’ll still watch it for Summer. That won’t always hold, but for the moment, whenever you’ve got Summer Glau on your side, you’ve got me too!

Quote Excerpts Thanks to Wizard and Sci-Fi Chick

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