Summer Glau spoke with The A.V. Club about how a camel saddle took her from dancing to acting, and why she worries people might think she's a hack, in an interview published on February 24, 2008.
Here are excerpts from the interview:
The A.V. Club: What was the audition for the Terminator series like?
Summer Glau: Well, I was very nervous. I thought I was going to be in a room of six-foot blondes. I went in and I realized that Josh Friedman had written the pilot, and I'm a huge fan of his work. I think he is a creative genius, and if anyone could do this series, it was him. So I was very very excited to have the opportunity to work with him, and he and I hit it of from the beginning. I ended up going in and testing for the role, and going to the network, and it was a good fit, once I understood the character.
AVC: Do they ever get on your case about being too fancy, or having too much of a martial-arts stance?
SG: No. The one thing that Joel Kramer - our stunt coordinator for Sarah Connor Chronicles - says is for me to no make an expression. I always want to scowl when I fight, and I don't have to do that any more. I wasn't supposed to do that in Serenity, either; Joss wanted me to look very serene, but when I get riled up to do a fight scene, I always get a look on my face.
AVC: How did you prepare yourself to switch from dancing to acting?
When I was 19, it was a turning point for me—I was in so much pain every day, and I came into L.A. for the summer, and I had a friend who was dancing at the theater, and I thought, "Well, I can still dance—I just can't put on my shoes, I can't wear my pointe shoes all day long. So I came out here thinking it would be a getaway for the summer, and I ended up auditioning for jobs and booking them right away. I still danced. I danced tango for a year until I got some acting work. And then that was it. It was the right fit for me. I moved my things out here and went for it.
AVC: You worked in commercials, but your one-shot on Angel was your first actual TV role, wasn't it?
SG: It was. It's so funny, too. I was out of town, I missed the dance audition; Joss had actually held the dance audition first, before the acting audition. He wanted a dancer, but I missed it. I'm a good ballet dancer, and I would have done well in the audition, but I missed it! And then I went in and read for him, and it was the biggest audition I ever had—and I thought he didn't like me. I thought he was making fun of me, and when I left the room, I said to myself, "Well, that's someone I'll never see again." And then he ended up casting me without seeing me dance, and the choreographer panicked. I had to dance Giselle, and that's a role I didn't even get to dance in real life. It's one of the most elaborate in classical ballet, and he just told me, "Well, I just hope you don't have wooden legs." Sure enough, it all worked out. I did it, and the choreographer was relieved that I was a true ballet dancer. That was my first experience. Joss gave me my first guest-star on a TV show, he gave me my first series regular on a TV show, and he gave me my first lead in a film.
AVC: How does that compare with how much you knew about Cameron going into Terminator, or how much you knew about Crystal going into The Unit?
SG: Well Crystal was a big surprise, because they threw me for a loop with her. I had an idea who I thought she was, and when they gave me the concept to play the role, she was a very different character. Then, over time, they kept taking me on these twists and turns—I loved playing that role. Loved being Crystal. It was so much fun to be bad, even though my boyfriend in real life was my boyfriend on the show. It was so hard to treat him so badly on TV.
But as far as playing Cameron, I was stumped on that one. I went in and told Josh, "I don't know, I have played such vulnerable and emotional characters up until now. That's what I'm comfortable with. I don't know how I'm going to play a robot and make people care about her, and for me as an actress to connect to her." So it was really a team effort. Josh had such great concepts for who he wanted Cameron to be. And then after he had the basic story and wrote the pilot episode, the writers as a team helped me decide who she is, and the fine line between the mystery of how much she really feels, and how much she is just a Terminator. And we're still shaping it, because we're in the very beginning; she's definitely changing every day. She's like a child, in that she absorbs everything around her, and she can really take on the personalities she observes.
Read full interview at The AV Club
British magazine Dreamwatch visits the set of Serenity in its 11th issue, published on September 2005, and ask what cinemagoers can expect from the feature film spin-off from the sci-fi western series Firefly. Here are the scans of the four-page article:
Summer Glau: In dance, everything is very fluid, but you hold your positions longer,whereas in martial arts, it has to go out and come back super-fast. I pulled every muscle in my body. I cried every day and then one day, I just got really fast. It's been amazing.
There's also an article on Kitty Pryde's part in X-Men 3, mentioning that Summer Glau was brought in to read for the role (Ellen Page finally got the role).
Joss Whedon: For my money, Summer Glau would make a wonderful Kitty.
Bonus pictures: an advertisement for the Serenity comic book series published by Dark Horse Comics and another ads for the Jayne Cobb and Malcolm Reynolds action figures on the back cover of the magazine and the front cover featuring Katee Sackhoff (Battlestar Galactica).