by Nur Hussein, staff writer
Today we wish Summer Glau a very happy birthday! No stranger to genre, Glau’s most famous role is River Tam in the tragically cancelled Joss Whedon TV series, Firefly.
Glau was born in 1981 in San Antonio, Texas. She is of Scots-Irish and German parentage, and she spent a considerable amount of her youth dedicated to ballet. After she broke her toe, she decided to go into acting.
Her first TV role was a guest on the Buffy spin-off Angel, where she played a ballerina (the ballet training helped!). It was then that she met Joss Whedon, and the rest was history; she was cast in Whedon’s acclaimed TV series Firefly. Her character, River Tam, was an intellectually gifted youngster; brainwashed and experimented on, she had a tenuous grip on her sanity. As a result, she says odd, cryptic, and often funny things, a quirkiness that endeared her character (and Glau herself) to a legion of fans.
After Firefly’s cancellation, Glau’s landed a lot of roles in other genre shows. She appeared in 8 episodes of The 4400 as Tess Doerner, a schizophrenic with mind-control abilities.
In 2008, she was cast in the Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles as the robot Cameron, who is sent back in time to protect John Connor, much like Arnold’s Terminator. As in her previous genre characters, she seems to have a penchant for portraying odd people with strange quirks, and Glau’s terminator ends up looking and sounding like a very weird girl to those who don’t know she is a robot. Sadly, this show was also cancelled after two seasons.
Glau has appeared on The Big Bang Theory, Chuck, Alphas, and collaborated again with Joss Whedon on a few episodes of now-cancelled Dollhouse. She was hired as one of the main cast of The Cape, which was cancelled in 2011 after only 10 episodes. Glau can most recently be seen in the DC series Arrow, where she plays the villain Isabel Rochev.
On the film front, Glau returned to the character of River Tam on the big screen in Serenity, the motion picture that wrapped up the loose ends of the TV series Firefly. She was also the voice of Supergirl in the animated DC movie, Superman/Batman: Apocalypse. Her most recent film is the cult hit, Knights of Badassdom, where she plays a LARPer caught in real battle with a demon that was unwittingly released into the world.
In addition to being a trained ballerina, Glau is also trained in the arts of kung-fu and kickboxing, which helped her in all those roles where she was required to be a badass fighter. She is a vegetarian, or was, before she discovered the joy of steak. She admitted on Craig Ferguson’s show that she has a fear of whales.
We hope you have a very excellent birthday Summer Glau, have some steak and cake, and may your next TV series stay on the air for a long time!
Nur is a tinkerer of programmable things, an apprentice in an ancient order of technomages. He enjoys fantasy, sci-fi, comic books, and Lego in his spare time. His favourite authors are Asimov and Tolkien. He also loves Celtic and American folk music. You can follow him on twitter: @nurhussein