Date of publishing: 1st
When Summer Glau was younger, she was a professional
ballet dancer. Her ballet training schedule required
her to be home schooled by her mother from Grades
3 to 12. She secretly wanted to become an actress.
Later on, she began to do some acting because of an
injury she had that forced her to take a break from
dancing. She started out slowly in the acting business.
She was in a range of commercials and theatre productions.
However, she was finally noticed by Joss Whedon after
being in an episode of Angel. Joss ended up casting
her for the role of River Tam, in his new series Firefly.
She also appeared as a guest in episodes of Cold Case
and CSI and made a short appearance in the movie Sleepover,
before reprising the role of River Tam in the Firefly
sequel-movie Serenity. After that she made recurring
guests in both The Unit and The 4400 and leads in
two movies: The Initiation of Sarah & Mammoth.
She can be seen in the new series Terminator:
The Sarah Connor Chronicles.
of the things that’s interesting about Cameron
is that not only does she have the action scenes,
but the comedy is very central to the character. Could
you talk about sort of that deadpan attitude that
you have to play there?
Summer Glau: It’s just Josh
Friedman. It was his idea, and it was a fine balance
from the pilot to the series, deciding exactly how
Cameron was going to relate to the people around her.
And I think we all felt that it was a great comic
opportunity. It’s been really fun for me.
What are the logistics of
sort of playing that deadpan? How flat do you have
to play it, or is there an inflection that we maybe
aren’t picking up necessarily?
Summer Glau: Well, I always told
Josh it’s just me trying to be as honest as
possible as Cameron. I never want to ask the audience
to laugh at me because then it just doesn’t
feel real, and so I just approach everything and try
to be really sincere, as Cameron would be. She’s
so – I think that is what is so funny about
her is just that she can’t be anything but genuine.
She’s very open, like a child. She absorbs the
behavior around her and tries to understand it as
best she can, and sometimes it ends up being extremely
single most discussed promotional piece I think for
any show this year was that poster. What does it feel
like to look at it and see that strange picture of
your sort of – basically your disembodied head
with some wires coming out of the bottom of it. How
did you react the first time you saw that? In general,
is it just kind of weird playing, in some respects,
Summer Glau: Yes. I remember when
we were on set and James Middleton, who is one of
our producers, was describing this concept to me about
this awesome poster. 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.
Then I said, oh, come on. Let’s just use a picture,
a normal picture, maybe Lena holding a gun and that
sounds good. Then I saw the poster, and I thought,
wow. I’m actually – I understand the concept
now. I thought its’ really different. I think
it’s going to make people wonder. It’s
interesting. And I think it says a lot about the show.
But I remember they were talking about how they were
going to start the campaign in LA in December, but
I went home for Christmas and for New Years. And when
I got home is when all the posters were up. I can’t
even describe how it feels. It doesn’t feel
like me. When I look at it, I just think about the
team of people that put it together. It doesn’t
even really register that it’s me, so it kind
of represents all of us to me.
is home that you went to?
Summer Glau: Texas, I’m from
you tell us if there’s ever going to be sort
of an exploration of Cameron’s point of view?
Right now it’s the Sarah Connor Chronicles and
we’re trying to find Sky Net, but Cameron obviously
would have a very unique point of view of all of this,
and is that something in the show will they explore,
do you think?
Summer Glau: I think that it is sort
of – I think that we do work as a dysfunctional
family right now, and I think it is sort of –
it’s a mystery at this point if Cameron’s
intentions are what she presents them to be. I don’t
even really know what’s going on with Cameron.
I do know that maybe she has a mysterious past. And
it’s unclear what she ends up being in the future.
But at this point, I think that all three of us, as
far as what I know from the script, we are all fighting
for the same goal, but that might turn out to be sort
of a front. Cameron might have come back from the
past for a different purpose.
I’d like to know what
it’s been like for you as a female to play a
role that, until now, is so hyper masculine and sort
of reserved for people who look like Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Summer Glau: It’s been a surprise
every day. I almost didn’t go in on the audition
because I just – I had such an idea in my mind
of what a terminator should be, and I did not fit
that mold in any way. I’m short and I just didn’t
think that I had that terminator look. But I think
that it is interesting because Arnold Schwarzenegger
is such an icon. He’s such an action hero that
Josh Friedman decided to take the Terminator on a
completely different path. We’re not trying
to recreate Arnold Schwarzenegger. We’re doing
a completely different Terminator, and that makes
me feel safe because I don’t have to try to
follow in his footsteps. I’m just doing something
different. And it’s been great as a girl playing
a role like this. I always look for roles that make
me feel good about being a woman, and that’s
not always easy. But I think on our show in particular,
we’re so empowered and we have a place of importance
in the script. It’s really gratifying as an
you shot the pilot for this, you spoke about how you
always had to keep in mind that you were playing a
character that isn’t human. As you spend more
time in the role and got to know Cameron better, did
that get any easier, or is it something you were always
conscious of throughout?
Summer Glau: I think that as you
do a series, you do sort of become your character
in a way, and it does get much more comfortable when
you read a scene. You kind of have an idea of how
you want to do it. Whereas when you first begin a
role, you’re really exploring it and you’re
making big decisions about how you want to play her.
But at this point, I think all of us in the cast have
really gotten comfortable with how our characters
would react in a certain situation. But I would say
that the hardest part is still looking at my scene
partner who might be spilling their guts to me or
crying or yelling, and I can’t give anything
back. I mean I’m always giving something. I’m
always giving energy back to my scene partner, but
I can’t respond in a way that I would if I was
playing a human. That never quite feels natural to
other role you’re, of course, best known for
is as River Tam in Firefly and Serenity. If River
Tam fought Cameron, who would win?
Summer Glau: Well, I played River
for a little bit longer. I think I know more of her
moves at this point, but River was all about finesse
and creativity and using her form as best she could
because she wasn’t the strongest person in the
room, and she wasn’t the biggest girl in the
room. Now playing Cameron, I don’t really break
a sweat because she just gets to pick things up and
throw them and bash through walls. I don’t know.
I think it would be an ugly fight.
Could you talk about some
of the differences between playing River and playing
Summer Glau: It’s funny because
I actually see some similarities between them. They’re
both kind of foreigners in their surroundings. River
was never good at being able to relate to people around
her, and she always seemed to be somewhere else in
her mind. And Cameron is the same way. She’s
from a different place. She’s from a different
time. She’s not human. She doesn’t really
know how to relate to the people that she’s
living her life with now, so in that way they’re
similar. But River was so emotional and so vulnerable,
and Cameron can’t really be those things. That
was the biggest challenge for me when I first was
cast in the role was trying to define how I could
make her relatable and how I could relate to her as
an actress, so it’s been an interesting balance.
I’m still finding out who she is, and I think
that she’s constantly growing. She’s constantly
changing from scene-to-scene and absorbing human characteristics,
so I think that she will continue to become more relatable
as time goes on.
do you think the prospects are for a Cameron/John
Summer Glau: The writers are keeping
me guessing. At this point, I can’t tell. I
know that it’s a possibility. And I think that
in her own way, Cameron does love John because, when
I think about it, her entire existence is to protect
him. Her purpose in life is to keep him safe and to
be with him always. I think that she does love him,
as best a robot could. But at this point, their relationship
is very complicated. John is still trying to figure
out how he wants to treat her and what his relationship
with her should be. It’s really complicated,
but I think that anything is possible at this point.
name of your character, I assume, is an homage to
Summer Glau: Yes.
you heard anything from him or if anybody from the
show has interacted much with him in terms of what’s
going to be going forward on the show.
Summer Glau: Not that I know of.
I don’t know if he – I would be very interested
and nervous to see what he had to say about the show,
but I haven’t heard anything. I’m not
sure if he’s seen it.
also, who would win, your Terminator or the TX from
Summer Glau: I don’t know.
Have you seen her? She’s really tall in real
life. She’s very imposing, but we haven’t
actually gone at it yet. Maybe she’ll come be
on the show. Maybe she’ll help me out.
Can you give us any hits
or spoilers as to what we might see in upcoming episodes?
Summer Glau: Well, I think people
are going to be surprised at the direction of the
show is going in. We have a lot of really strong subplots
and a lot of great guest stars coming in constantly.
I’m always amazed at what our writers come up
with. I think people have a feeling of what they think
the show is going to be, but there’s going to
be a lot of interesting twists because, when you take
a concept from film and you put it into a television
show, you can really take time to develop the story.
So there are things that I think people haven’t
are some of your favorite things about Cameron and
what are some things that you feel Cameron couldn’t
hurt to learn or to have part of her characteristic?
Summer Glau: Well, I would say my
favorite things about Cameron are I love the fact
that I get to be very physical and that they’ve
chosen for a girl to be John’s bodyguard. I
think that that’s really exciting for girls
and a great role for an actress. As far as her personality,
if you could call it her personality, l love how open
she is and how curious she is. That gives me a lot
of opportunity, as an actress, to try different things
and for her to grow and change. But one of the interesting
things that I’ve been thinking about, especially
with … Selena is, does the terminator understand
what death is, and do they understand the value of
life. I think that that’s something that Sarah
has a really hard time with because she needs Cameron
and she keeps Cameron around because she understands
how valuable Cameron can be to keep John safe, but
I think that it constantly breaks her heart to watch
Cameron and her coldness. That’s something that
Cameron is very curious about, I think. I love that
part of their relationship.
are some of the other shows that you’re watching
on TV when you get time?
Summer Glau: My favorite show is
Brothers & Sisters. I’m so addicted to that
show. And the other shows I watch, I watch anything
that Anthony Bourdain does. I love all of his shows,
and cooking, the Food Network. I’ll watch anybody
you cook as well?
Summer Glau: Well, I’m constantly
trying. Have deep respect, but I’m working on
it. I guess I have my whole life to try.
You came in with a character
that, unlike everybody else, is not kind of a recast
of the characters that we’re familiar with,
with other actors. Does that make it easier or does
that make it harder? How does that actually work as
an actor when you don’t really have to have
the same type of challenges some of the other actors
do in terms of trying to create a character as your
Summer Glau: 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.
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.
there a lot of changes between Cameron in the pilot
and then Cameron in the rest of the series? I know
when we first met Cameron, she kind of had that kind
of valley girl personality, but then it went very
robotic after that. Were there other changes like
Summer Glau: Yes. We did make some
changes, and people will notice that from the pilot
to the series. We were experimenting with Cameron
quite a bit, and we wanted her to be able to seem
human. We wanted especially John to be fooled by her,
so that he would let her into his life. And so in
the pilot, I do act very human. And then as I go through
the series, it appears that I’ve taken steps
back and that I am acting more like a terminator would.
We did that for several different reasons, but I know
for me it’s fun because I get to take more time
for her development, her human development. I think
that it also is funny and I think once her cover was
blown with the Connors, she kind of was able to drop
that persona and become who she really is around them,
if that answers the question.
Another show that a lot of
us probably enjoyed you on was The 4400. What were
your thoughts about the cancellation? How did you
feel about that?
Summer Glau: I was heartbroken. I
love all of those actors. I have to say, I enjoyed
my time there immensely, and I thought it was an excellent
show. They had a really long run though. The show
was on for a long time, and I’m sure all those
actors are going to do great in new projects. I wish
I could have been there for the finale too because
I had to leave before the last episode because I was
shooting Sarah Connor, and I always thought, well
maybe I’ll come back. Now I don’t know.
Maybe some of those actors can come be on Terminator,
so I get to see them.
you a sci-fi fan? Is there something about the genre
that attracts you, that makes you want to be in it,
or is it maybe a case of the people who make sci-fi,
because they also watch sci-fi, you’re already
on the radar and stuff like that, or some combination
Summer Glau: Firefly was the first
sci-fi show that I ever auditioned for, so I kind
of got lucky, and I feel like once I became a member
of the Josh Whedon family, those actors have found
to like to see … actors on other shows. 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. 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.
there a pivotal moment in your life that compelled
you to be an actor, or was it an accident or something
you fell into or what?
Summer Glau: It’s funny. When
I was a little girl, I just had a feeling that I was
going to be an actress. I don’t know why. I
just thought I think one day I’m going to be
an actress, but I never did it. I danced since I was
five. And I did it all day every day. I traveled,
I danced, and I was in ballet companies, and I was
a very serious dancer. Then I got hurt, and it’s
kind of the cliché story of the girl who put
all her eggs in one basket and that’s all I
ever learned how to do. Then I got hurt, and I thought
what am I going to do. I ended up coming to LA to
dance tango for a year, because I couldn’t dance
on point anymore. I started auditioning for acting
jobs, and something just fit for me. And I felt this
piece that I was supposed to be doing it, and I ended
up, after a year, I got enough acting work where I
could completely switch over. So I was very lucky,
One told me that you were
following football very closely. Is that true? And
if so, do you have a prediction, Giants or Patriots?
Summer Glau: Okay, well, I’m
kind of sentimental about I love to see Eli Manning
when – I have to say – but my team is
the Cowboys, but either team would be fine with me.
I love watching football, not as much as my boyfriend,
but I’d say I watch my fair share for sure.
it can’t be your Cowboys, your heart’s
not quite in it as much.
Summer Glau: No, but I’m going
to go with the Giants. They’re the underdogs.
you keep in contact with any of the Firefly gang?
And is there any word on another movie, or is that
series pretty much put to rest?
Summer Glau: It’s never over.
We thought it was over after the series got cancelled
and that wasn’t the case. We’re really
close. I’d say I get to see Nathan the most
because he lives the closest. I still see everyone
whenever I can. Jewel lives in Vancouver and she’s
working up there, so I don’t get to see her
as much as I like, but we all have such a strong bond.
I’d have to say, that was my first experience.
I didn’t even know how to stand on my mark.
I lost the camera all the time. I ran into people,
and they treated me like an equal and the family,
so I think that we would all come back if we got the
opportunity. And it’s never over.
much training, martial arts and whatnot, did you have
to have to play Cameron, especially after having played
Summer Glau: When I met with Joel
Cramer to talk about the fighting, I said I don’t
know how a terminator fights. He said, well it’s
going to be very different from what you did before
with River. You’re not going to be doing all
these beautiful martial arts movements and it’s
not about being creative and having to use dynamic
movement. It’s just about brut force. It’s
been a really fun change of pace for me because I
worked so hard on Serenity. I had to learn all that
martial arts. I did it myself. I did it from start
to finish, every fight scene, and it was incredibly
challenging. For Cameron, it’s challenging in
a different way because I can’t – I have
to constantly remind myself not to react humanly,
not to move in a human way. Even things like crossing
your legs, I can’t touch my hair to move it
out of my face. I have to really reprogram my mind.
But as far as the actual fighting, it’s really
fun. Must of the training I did was just going to
the shooting range with Joel. It was a great time.
Do you feel like you’re
getting to do the range of roles that you would like
to play? River and Cameron are similar in a lot of
ways. Your role in The Unit, which I loved, was quite
a bit different. Would you like to play a more comedic
role at some point?
Summer Glau: I have three goals,
three new goals, and one of those is that I’d
like to do a movie about dance, which is something
that I’m working on right now, and I want to
do a western. That’s been one of my dreams.
When I was a little girl and I thought about being
an actress, I always wanted to do period films, romantic,
Jane Austin kind of movies. That’s not what
I’m doing right now, but I hope that I can do
it all at some point.
You said you have a movie in the works, is that what
Summer Glau: There’s a little
something that I’m working on right now, but
with dance. It’s something that Josh Whedon
is working on. He’s had this idea for a while
and we haven’t had the opportunity where both
of us were available, but it’s something that
we’re working on as much as we can.
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