- by Q.V. Hough
What happened to Summer Glau, one of mainstream television’s most prolific performers during the 2000s? The American actress received her big break on Angel in 2002, and subsequently landed several high-profile roles over the following decade. Since 2014, though, Glau has appeared in only a handful of TV episodes.
Glau is best known for portraying the mysterious and knowledge-hungry River Tam in Firely, a role that she reprised in Joss Whedon’s 2005 film Serenity. Despite the big screen appearance, however, Glau never became a proper movie star, as she only appeared in several made-for-television movies during the mid-2000s. Still, Glau continued to strengthen her fan base upon voicing Kara Zor-El/Supergirl in the direct-to-video movie Superman/Batman: Apocalypse. On top of that, she portrayed Tess Doerner in The 4400 and Crystal Burns in The Unit season 2, making her more than just a familiar face on network television.
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For those unfamiliar with Firefly, Glau may be recognized as the Terminator Cameron from the Fox series Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, and also as the TOK715’s doppelgänger, Cameron Young. Glau’s professional relationship with the aforementioned Whedon led her to Dollhouse, and she then landed a huge break with a lead role on NBC’s superhero series The Cape. But like so many ambitious network TV project, The Cape lasted just one season, and Glau never became the star of a hit series. She landed gigs on Grey’s Anatomy and Arrow in the past decade, but then seemingly disappeared after appearing in Crackle’s short-lived series Sequestered. To some, it may seem like Glau’s momentum fizzled out. The reality, however, is that her personal life became more important.
Glau married actor Val Morrison in 2014, and gave birth to daughters in both 2015 and 2017. She teased a return to TV by portraying Kendall Frost in one episode of Castle season 8, and most recently appeared in two episodes of Wu Assassins season 1 on Netflix. While Glau hasn’t discussed her personal life extensively over the past several years, it doesn’t appear that she’s retired, but rather focusing on being present in her children’s lives. On Father’s Day 2019, a paparazzo questioned Glau (via YouTube) about the release of Terminator: Dark Fate, and whether she’d have a cameo. “I don’t think so,” Glau says, while walking with her husband and two daughters, “my hands are full right now.”
Now 38 years old, Glau doesn’t appear to have any films or TV series on her immediate schedule. But with her acclaimed resume and athletic abilities, Glau could certainly pick up where she left off at any time. Then again, Glau may be ready for a career shift after becoming a mother, and could decide to pursue roles that are less physically-challenging. In May 2019, she re-created her famous River Tam pose (via Reddit) from Firefly, and later appeared at FanCon 2020. For now, Summer Glau can land notable paying checks just by attending industry conferences, and by promoting her past roles that long-time fans love so much.
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About The Author
A Fargo native and former Hollywood production manager, Q.V. Hough has written over 900 news and features articles for Screen Rant since March 2018. He’s the founding editor of Vague Visages, and has also written for RogerEbert.com, Fandor, and WatchMojo.
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