A native of San Antonio, Texas, Summer Lyn Glau (born July 24, 1981 in San Antonio, Texas) is a classically trained ballerina who broke into acting in 2002 with a guest spot on Angel (playing a ballerina). Her career has primarily been composed of active women and damaged girls (usually combined) in science fiction and fantasy series.
Her first role (the aforementioned Angel guest spot) got a standing ovation from the cast and crew after recording her single scene of dialogue, and critical reviews for her performance as River Tam and Cameron Phillips have been overwhelmingly positive. However, she has yet to get much mainstream recognition as her roles have largely been reserved to TV shows and films that failed to perform on the business end.
After 2016, she appears to be largely retired from acting to focus on raising her two daughters.
Tropes associated with her works:
- Action Girl: As the below tropes should make clear, she's more than capable of kicking ass and frequently does so in her roles.
- Badass Adorable: Par for the course playing a Dance Battler. Also see Waif-Fu below.
- Beware the Nice Ones: Also in line with playing a Badass Adorable.
- Brainy Brunette: Quite a few of Summer's characters have above-average intelligence, such as River, Bennett, Orwell, Skylar, and even Cameron.
- Ceiling Cling: Done without any special effects.
- Dance Battler: Literally. She is a classically trained ballerina.
- Does Not Like Shoes: She has tendonitis in her heels and arthritis in her toes due to her background as a ballerina,note so shoes are actually painful for her to wear. She has said that boots, specifically cowboy boots, are more comfortable for her."I think the thing I like about River is that she gets to be barefoot so much of the time. I dont like shoes very much."
- Summer has admitted in more recent interviews that shoes don't really bother her that much anymore (and she's been seen wearing regular shoes at conventions lately), she just simply likes being able to feel the ground with her feet. She attributes this to being a common trait amongst dancers.
- Gender-Blender Name: Summer, River, Cameron, Orwell, Paige, Bennett, Skylar.
- Hospital Hottie: Portrayed one in a cameo role for Grey's Anatomy.
- Older Than They Look: She was born in 1981, but you'd be forgiven for believing she was at best in her early twenties.
- Phrase Catcher: After an infamous incident of Summer screwing up her lines during the filming of Firefly, the other cast members — most notably Nathan Fillion — took to yelling her name as an expletive whenever anything went wrong. Nathan is rumored to have taken the tradition on to his succeeding shows including Drive and Castle.
- Pint-Sized Powerhouse: In her case, this is the sum of Badass Adorable + Waif-Fu.
- Playing with Character Type: Her role as Skyler in Alphas. In her first episode, she's introduced in a way that implies that Skyler's a crazy super-powered teenager just like River or Cameron — and then once we get to know her, she's closer to Summer's real age, much more together, and has a kid.
- Unkempt Beauty: So much so that she appears multiple times on the page.
- Waif-Fu: Her "River Tam beats up everyone" scenes from Serenity are almost as well-known as the movie itself. Despite her tiny frame, Summer Glau is pretty well-trained in multiple martial arts disciplines. When called on to convincingly beat up people several times her size (like in the aforementioned scene) she requires No Stunt Double.
Summer Glau appears in:
- "Waiting in the Wings," an episode of Angel where her one scene of dialogue got a standing ovation from the cast and crew.
- Firefly and Serenity, where she played River Tam, a crazy psychic waif on the run from the Alliance with her brother. Skyrocketed her into popularity among geekdoms everywhere.
- Victim of the Week Paige Pratt in the Cold Case episode "Love Conquers All"
- CSI: "What's Eating Gilbert Grissom?"
- xkcd: She beats up everyone and beats both Randall Munroe and Nathan Fillion in an electric skateboard race.
- Syfy Channel Original Movie Mammoth, which featured a mammoth corpse reanimated by aliens that sucked the life force out of those it encountered.
- The Unit
- The 4400, where she plays Tess Doerner, another crazy psychic waif. She does get better, though.
- Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles: Notable also for making a Terminator into a sympathetic character while still going on violent, shotgun happy-rampages. She also played Allison Young, a not-very crazy, very-not-psychic resistance fighter who nonetheless proved to be as tough as Sarah Connor in terms of sheer Determinator-ability.
- That one episode of The Big Bang Theory where she played herself.
- Dollhouse, playing a genius-level Doll programmer named Bennett Halverson who has ... issues.
- Deadly Honeymoon, which is apparently Very Loosely Based on a True Story.
- The Western Legend of Hell's Gate playing a girl named Maggie Moon.
- NBC's superhero drama The Cape in which she plays a cyber-sleuth blogger reporter known as Orwell, who apparently becomes the title hero's sidekick and, like with River and Cameron, is more dangerous than her size implies.
- Appropriately-named horror/comedy movie Knights of Badassdom. Presumably, they were working with a much less awesome title before Summer was cast.
- The voice of Supergirl in the DC Universe Animated Original Movies installment Superman/Batman: Apocalypse.
- Sleepover. She is credited as "Ticket girl".
- Chuck as one of the "Greta" agents. (Not surprisingly◊, one of the more Ax-Crazy Gretas.)
- Alphas (guest starring) as a Gadgeteer Genius named Skylar.
- Cameoed as a nurse on Grey's Anatomy.
- The Initiation Of Sarah (2006), where she played Sarah's Muggle sister Lindsay.
- A Hallmark Special Help for the Holidays, wherein she plays an elf out to restore a family's Christmas spirit.
- Isabel Rochev in Arrow. She got into a bit of Wag the Director due to being unsatisfied with how small the role was, resulting in the story being changed mid-course to turn her into the supervillain Ravager (with the side effect of the original character intended for the role, Sara Lance, remaining a hero and ultimately getting a major role in another Arrowverse show).
- Appears in the Crackle.com series Sequestered.
- Olivia Frampton in the "Comic Con Air" episode of NTSF:SD:SUV::.