Summer Glau is a Trekkie. Yes it’s true. A gorgeous, talented actress who happens to have played two of the more iconic roles in recent Sci Fi history likes to geek it up as much as the next nerd.
It makes the air worth breathing. It makes discussing the various merits of different Starfleet captains, if not cool, well, supremely okay.
Summer is out in Australia, right now, as a guest of Supanova. She popped into Sydney last weekend, and this weekend she’s in Perth, at the Claremont showgrounds. We had a chat with her about what life’s like when you’re Summer Glau, who her favourite Star Trek character is (and the actor she met that blew her mind) and what classic Sci Fi she breaks out when introducing her Sci Fi side.
Looks, talent, and geekiness. Swoon, internet, swoon.
Summer Glau. She does all right. With what she’s got.
Hello Summer! How are you?
I’m doing great, I’m really excited. I think this is my fourth trip to Australia.
What keeps you coming back?
I just love the country, the people, the food. The warm welcome.
You are beloved by fans of the Whedonverse, but it’s now been 8 years since you were first involved with Joss and his fans, who tend to be quite passionate about it all. Is it something that you tire of?
I never tire of feeling supported. I loved the experience that I had. ALl of us that have worked for Joss have really cherished the experience of working with him. I always think of the fans when I’m doing something new - will they watch, will they approve? I don’t think I can ever really take it for granted - it’s something that really doesn’t happen every day.
Having graduated from Angel to Firefly to Serenity and The Sarah Connor Chronicles, and now the awesomely titled ‘The Knights of Badassdom’, do you see yourself heading into and embracing the world of ‘Sci Fi Actress’ or are you just a working actress happy to get any role, no matter what the part or what the genre?
I think a little of both. I don’t think necessarily I only want to take Sci Fi roles. I have done other roles, it’s just that they haven’t been as well-loved! I think for me, like most actors, you just take the best jobs, whatever those jobs are. I’ve had the opportunity to play really special characters - Sci Fi has been good for me in that way. That’s what I strive for in my work.
Scoop-fishing time: Joss Whedon is directing - soooo - have you been cast in The Avengers film?
I haven’t been cast yet, no.
People look at you and say ‘ooh Summer, she’s so beautiful, she’s amazing’ but one wonders if it’s like that looking out. Your success, in a way, bolsters everything you do and how you think of yourself. But is this true? When you look at yourself do you see a mess of faults?
Well. There are just so many things I don’t know where to begin. As I’ve gotten older I’ve become used to the way I look, accept it for what it is. Trying to make the most with what I’ve got.
Well you’ve done okay so far!
(laughs) Thank you!
Somewhere, far off in the distance, Summer heard the gentle sound of a thousand Sci Fi fans stampeding towards her convention.
You’re a bit of a Sci Fi fan. If you meet a new friend, and you want to show them how awesome Sci Fi is, what do you show them?
I’m pretty old school about that kind of stuff. I love Blade Runner. I love Princess Bride (although it’s not really Sci Fi, of course), but the show I really grew up on was Star Trek: The Next Generation. That was a show that I watched with my parents that I talked them into letting me stay up to watch it. I got to meet Marina Sirtis last year, which was a really special moment for me. I grew up idolising her.
Is there something that you’d like to do, or someone you’d like to meet in Australia?
Definitely, in Sydney, try and visit Taronga Zoo.
One of the interesting facets to your career is that you’ve been called upon to do ‘anti-acting’ - not to show emotion on your face, especially for Terminator, Cameron, but also for the enigmatic River Tam. Is there a process that you go through to get to that blankness?
Well, it was hard at first, with Cameron, to remove all expressions, but as it went on it became very natural to me. Every once in a while, when the scene was very emotional, it was a challenge, I have to tell you.
Do you ever find you pull a ‘Cameron face’ when dealing with annoying people, such as surly bank clerks?
(laughs) Probably! It does just happen sometimes.
We’re assuming you get noticed in public a great deal. When people come up to you in the street and annoy you, is it annoying?
I sometimes don’t get noticed! For me, its always a pleasant surprise, when people come up and are interested in what you’re doing.
Now that you’ve taken on the role of ‘actress’ in your life, do you see yourself developing beyond that, beginning with taking more control over what parts you play? Is there a particular role that you have your heart set on? Is there somewhere where you’d like to head?
I want to tackle so many things. This past year I got to do my first Lifetime movie, which was a childhood dream of mine, and I got to do my first Western, which was a super experience. I find that if I focus on something, I really pray about it, think about it, talk about what my goals are, it tends to come true. I just want to grow as an actor and challenge the people are around me.
As you move on from crew to crew to crew, do you always compare and contrast your initial experience of working with Joss?
It’s hard when you start out with Joss, because starting out with Firefly it was like being in a family. It wasn’t a job, even though it was my first job. I think after that, I probably had a harder time adjusting afterwards, because it was such a warm space that moving on was traumatic for em. But every cast and every crew that I’ve ever worked with has been special to me. I’ve never had a bad experience. Terminator was really special for me because I worked on that more than anything else. I got really attached to that crew.
Time-travelling cyborg. Crazy combat-trained psychic. Good Dancer. Not a bad CV.
Were there any bad habits that you picked up on the Firefly set that you’ve brought with you since then?
(laughs) I was trying so hard to never mess up, I don’t think I had a chance to develop any bad habits! I never wanted to get fired! I guess I’ll have to wait for my next job to start on bad habits. (laughs)
Such a refreshing change of pace for a young Hollywood actress.
(laughs) Not for much longer!
The more successful one becomes, in Hollywood, the more awesome free shit one gets given. What’s the most outrageous swag you have collected as ‘Summer Glau, Hollywood Starlet’?
Mmm. That’s a tough one. The one thing that I wished I had - the rest of the cast of Firefly told me I should have stolen -- was River’s combat boots. You weren’t allowed to take anything - because you’re working for Fox they get to keep everything, they keep all of our props and costumes. All of our stuff.
Doing the convention circuit, you’d bump into the odd Sci Fi icon here and there. Is there someone in particular that you’d really like to meet?
Well I got to meet Marina Sirtis, which was really huge for me, but if I had to say one person, I guess it would be William Shatner.
He’s actually coming out to Australia next year. Perhaps you guys can team up. Or maybe you’ll get a guest role on ’Sh&t My Dad Says’.
What show or movie would you have loved to have appeared on/in?
Camelot. Gone With The Wind. Gilda. Those are my favourites.
Thank you very much for your time, and good luck!
Thank you, you too!