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Can We All Take a Moment to Appreciate Summer Glau (River)???

BuffyNvrForgets

Slayerette
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Aug 10, 2021
Messages
119
I recently forced my sister to watch all of Firefly. She had some odd notions about the Whedonverse I just had to correct (including the opinion that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was the only good thing Whendon had ever been affilitated with, having never seen any Whedonverse property aside from that, Avengers, 3 episodes of Dollhouse and only "Hush" from Buffy). She, of course, fell in love with it. But it kindled a fire within me as well...

I should give some background. I watched Buffy first. And when I got to season 4, I started Angel alongside, so as to see them in order and compliment, mention, and crossover to eachother.

I really hadn't planned to watch all of Whedon's shows. But when I watched Angel's "Waiting in the Wings" (which remains one of my favorite episodes, purely for the setting, tragic/beautiful "story" of the episode, and not to mention the way the actual story of the ballet "Giselle" reflect, ever so slightly, not only Fred, Wesley, and Gunn, but also Cordelia, Angel and Groo), I was intrigued by the Amazon/IMDb trivia stating that the "Russian" ballerina that so intrigued me and moved me with her monologue had actually been cast in Whedon's other show Firefly because of it. I made a mental note to check it out, but by the time I'd finished the two series, I had decided to watch all the shows, and thus start with Dollhouse. I heard it wasn't quite as good as the others, and wanted to end on a strong note, so I watched Dollhouse first, and save Firefly for last.

But lo and behold! Here she is again. This time playing the scorned genius, Bennet Halverson. I know she was evil, but I was, much to my confusion (I had not formed any serious attachment to the character), very upset at her sudden death.

Well, anyways, I finished Dollhouse and began Firefly. I'm not sure if it's just because she was so familiar already, or the mere fact that for some reason the slightly (or incredibly) unstable characters are always my favorite, but River was my immediate favorite. I loved every second of her crazy dialogue, raged at Jayne for turning Simon and her over, and cried tears of concerned confusion during "Objects in Space" (which is now one of my favorite Firefly episodes) when I thought they had straight up made her fuse her consciousness with the ship (Because nothing is really impossible with these shows).

And now back to present day, the reason for this post. (I hope I haven't bored you too much with my personal story.)

Many things in my recent life have contributed to the admiration I now hold. Things including that one day "Pas de Deux" from The Nutcracker "danced" into my head (I've always loved classical music, and enjoyed seeing ballets, so it's not far off), peaking my interest in ballet. Or rewatching "Waiting in the Wings" once again. Heck, even just picking out my favorite River captions to go on my "nerd" wall.

But after watching Firefly again, I researched her more deeply (I had already known a thing or two about her just by floating around the world of all things Buffy, Angel and Firefly).

I found she has an amazing story.
She began dancing at around age 5. Dancing was her life. And then, as often happens, eventually she had suffered an injury that basically sealed the deal. She could no longer dance professionally (fortunately it seems she is still able to dance, at least casually). This was at about age 18 (this is not exact, just an approximation). Imagine having something you know you want to do your whole life, then, right as you get to the age you can truly make that gift you've cultivated into your career, you suddenly can't do it. As an artist (and violinist), imagining I lost the use of my hands (or something of the like)? I can't even imagine what I'd do.

But, she says, after having grieved her situation a bit, she began to pursue acting. She often says when she was young, she had the strangest voice in the back of her mind telling her she'd be an actress.
I find the story of how she got the part in Angel rather humorous. She "snuck in" to the callback audition for the Prima Ballerina (who I realize now has no name...) after having missed the dance audition. Long story short, they cast her, even without seeing her dance. Apparently Joss said something along the lines of "Well I hope she doesn't have cement feet, because she's got the part". Must have been surprising to them when she showed up and was in fact, able to dance.

This was her first role. Ever.

She knew so little about the acting world and life on set, she did her own hair and makeup before arriving for her first day of shooting.

It was her monologue in that episode (I call it the "Echo Monologue") that eventually got her the part in Firefly.

Clearly she's learned quite a bit about her craft, and really left her mark, especially on the nerdy fandom world, often being praised for bringing a gracefullness (from her dance experience) to all her roles.

But it's not just her amazing acting (and dancing!) abilites that have earned her a spot of such fondness and admiration in my heart.

She's just incredible. The courage she must have had, not letting her dancing set back keep her down for long. She knows who she is. She's incredibly humble, and shows intense gratitude to everyone who has ever helped her along, including us fans. She has such a sweet nature. She's such an amazing example of true and beautiful femininity. And by that, I don't mean she likes pink. I have no idea what color she likes. I mean she exemplified the true spirit of femininity (not the one created by society). She is warm, loving and strong. Certainly not submissive, nor pushy and rude. I could go on about that, but that's a different discussion.

I also notice that she has been seen rather rarely as of late. And I cannot express enough admiration for why. She recently (in the past 5-7ish years, I'm not exactly sure, and it's really none of my business, so I like to respect that) became a mother, and has thus decided to step back and take time for her family. She seems so incredibly joyful when discussing her family, and if that isn't truly beautiful, I'm not sure what is. Not everyone is called to being a wife. Not everyone is called to being a mother, or a stay at home one (Same goes for guys). But if you are, to pour your heart into your work (of family life), I can only imagine will be eternally rewarding. (I have not yet been blessed with this fullfillment.)





So, after that long winded (but hopefully interesting) story, now I open it up. Do you enjoy seeing Summer Glau in your favorite nerdy show or movie? When did you first encounter her? Did you know about her story? Is River your favorite? Are you just here because you are bored and have no idea what I'm talking about?
 

thrasherpix

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She's not my favorite (though I like her roles well enough), but what you said made a lot of sense so I understand why she's your favorite. And it was an enjoyable read.
 
BuffyNvrForgets
BuffyNvrForgets
Aww, glad you thought so! That’s part of the reason why I love specifically the Whedonverse. There’s a character for every person. No one is the same. We all need different people/role models. Out of curiosity, who is your favorite?

thetopher

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Sineya
I really like Summer Glau in Angel and Dollhouse. I consider Bennett Haverson to be damaged rather than evil, given that Caroline/Echo used her and left her crippled/to die (at least from Bennett's perspective). Consequently I find it easy to feel sorry for her even when she's doing terrible things and was gutted when she died.

Also I liked Cameron from the tragically cancelled 'Sarah Connor Chronicles', Summer was great in that.


But River in Firefly? Not so much. First time I watched the show through she was easily my least favorite of the cast. I might've grown to like her as the series progressed but really 'Objects In Space' is the only episode where she doesn't feel like a frustrating distraction/plot macguffin to me. And she's much more interesting in 'Serenity'.

To be fair I find most 'crazy/damaged' characters to be irritating rather than believable, so it might be more the archetype than the actress.

As an aside Miss Glau comes across as a really cool and admirable person. I'm very glad that she found a new calling that she could embrace after her dance injury.
 
ILLYRIAN
ILLYRIAN
Did you watch the bloopers, quite often the other actors would blame River for their bloopers, yeah naughty River!

BuffyNvrForgets

Slayerette
Joined
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I really like Summer Glau in Angel and Dollhouse. I consider Bennett Haverson to be damaged rather than evil, given that Caroline/Echo used her and left her crippled/to die (at least from Bennett's perspective). Consequently I find it easy to feel sorry for her even when she's doing terrible things and was gutted when she died.

Also I liked Cameron from the tragically cancelled 'Sarah Connor Chronicles', Summer was great in that.


But River in Firefly? Not so much. First time I watched the show through she was easily my least favorite of the cast. I might've grown to like her as the series progressed but really 'Objects In Space' is the only episode where she doesn't feel like a frustrating distraction/plot macguffin to me. And she's much more interesting in 'Serenity'.

To be fair I find most 'crazy/damaged' characters to be irritating rather than believable, so it might be more the archetype than the actress.

As an aside Miss Glau comes across as a really cool and admirable person. I'm very glad that she found a new calling that she could embrace after her dance injury.
I agree about Bennet. I described her more in general above, but I really appreciated that even though she wasn’t a huge role, they gave her a really good reason to be who she was. She had real motivations, even if they were to reach a harmful goal. Whiskey was another character in Dollhouse I got attached to and they disposed of…

I’m just starting The Sarah Connor Chronicles today, after having never seen a terminator property ever. It’ll be interesting!

I do understand your qualms with River. A great thing about Firefly is that even though it only has one season, pretty much every character is unique, defined, and has their own story going on. River and Simon’s is just lucky enough to tie into the overall. I can see where it would totally depend on where your heart is to determine whether you found River endearing/cool, or just obnoxious/distracting!
If you like Mal, Inara, Wash, Zoe, Jayne etc, you might not be as interested in River, and that? I totally understand.
Another thing I appreciate about River (and Simon, to some degree) is she is also used, especially early on, to help establish who these character are, by how they react to her, a potentially inconvenient or dangerous person, but a person none the less.

it illustrates Mal’ sun breakable code of honor. (S: “Why did you come back for us?” M:”Because you are on my crew”. S: But you don’t even like me. Why didn’t you leave us? M:”Because you are on my crew”. -not exact quotation from “Safe”)
It illustrates Jayne’s wavering loyalty, and desire for the easy path.
It shows us Kaylee’s caring, unendingly loyal heart.
 

burrunjor

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Big fan of Summer. She does lunatics and weirdos really well. It was really the Sarah Connor Chronicles that won me round. Loved her performance, her expressions and the weird relationship she had with John. The episode where she went mental was one of my favourites.

That show should have got another series. (The lady playing Sarah in it was also seriously gorgeous and a great actress too.)
 
BuffyNvrForgets
BuffyNvrForgets
I just watched the first episode today! I’ve never seen any terminator property before, so I’m figuring out what’s what as I go, but really cool so far! I’ll admit, I do chuckle when it takes itself too seriously…

Fuffy Baith

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Sineya
I'm not a big fan of Summer Glau, I never watched The Sarah Connor Chronicles (I'm not a Terminator fan). I loved Summer as River and Bennett Halverson. I did see her in a few episodes of Arrow, and that was intriguing. So, yeah I perk up a little bit if I see her in something I'm watching but I'm not going to go out of my way to watch her in things. That's how I feel about most Whedonverse actors. Only a few actors I actually watch something because they are in it. SMG and Eliza Dushku mainly.
 

thrasherpix

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I know very little about the actors on Firefly. SG truly has an inspiring story, though.


As for the characters on Firefly (since this thread is in that section), my favorite is very close between Zoe and Kaylee. I can relate most to these characters, not in an exact way, but personality wise, Zoe being a bit like I am today in certain situations (and in a certain part of my life) and Kaylee when I was an underaged teenager on the road. (I'd say my favorite male characters are Mal and Wash with a similar contrast between them as Zoe and Kaylee.)

Kaylee is just a lot of fun who brings much needed energy and optimism to the crew, and is believable as someone young who is thrust into a life outside the law. And I just love the pride in her work, and her interrogation in Bushwhacked is my absolute favorite. (And very similar at that uppity party in Shindig.)

I love Zoe's loyalty, and also how she handles her somewhat divided loyalties between her husband and captain. Most of all, I love her dry humor. The actress does an amazing job to me of seeming closed off and yet I can sense the seething emotions and passions bottled up (in contrast with some of her other roles on other shows).

Inara is my next favorite after those two, and she really makes me want to understand their society much better. I also have a fondness of Trickster characters (who win by cleverness and elaborate ruses rather than force, cunning, or diabolical combat strategy), and surprisingly, Inara is the Trickster of the group, which gives her added depth.

River comes in last, though I loved her in Shindig as well where she really messed with Badger's head.
 

BuffyNvrForgets

Slayerette
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I'm not a big fan of Summer Glau, I never watched The Sarah Connor Chronicles (I'm not a Terminator fan). I loved Summer as River and Bennett Halverson. I did see her in a few episodes of Arrow, and that was intriguing. So, yeah I perk up a little bit if I see her in something I'm watching but I'm not going to go out of my way to watch her in things. That's how I feel about most Whedonverse actors. Only a few actors I actually watch something because they are in it. SMG and Eliza Dushku mainly.
See, I’m the opposite. I generally play the game of “follow the actor” in terms of picking shows. When I like an actor, I’ll watch any of their shows that interest me. I totally respect she might not be “your girl”. I do agree though, it’s always fun to see a familiar face, no matter your opinion, and especially so when you don’t expect it! I just started to watch the Sarah Connor Chronicles today, and the evil terminator guy is from the show The Mentalist which I also recently watched! Fun to see “River” throw him around a bit…

Sarah Michelle Gellar and Eliza Dushku are pretty great…what have been the best shows you’ve discovered because of them? Any recommendations?
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I know very little about the actors on Firefly. SG truly has an inspiring story, though.


As for the characters on Firefly (since this thread is in that section), my favorite is very close between Zoe and Kaylee. I can relate most to these characters, not in an exact way, but personality wise, Zoe being a bit like I am today in certain situations (and in a certain part of my life) and Kaylee when I was an underaged teenager on the road. (I'd say my favorite male characters are Mal and Wash with a similar contrast between them as Zoe and Kaylee.)

Kaylee is just a lot of fun who brings much needed energy and optimism to the crew, and is believable as someone young who is thrust into a life outside the law. And I just love the pride in her work, and her interrogation in Bushwhacked is my absolute favorite. (And very similar at that uppity party in Shindig.)

I love Zoe's loyalty, and also how she handles her somewhat divided loyalties between her husband and captain. Most of all, I love her dry humor. The actress does an amazing job to me of seeming closed off and yet I can sense the seething emotions and passions bottled up (in contrast with some of her other roles on other shows).

Inara is my next favorite after those two, and she really makes me want to understand their society much better. I also have a fondness of Trickster characters (who win by cleverness and elaborate ruses rather than force, cunning, or diabolical combat strategy), and surprisingly, Inara is the Trickster of the group, which gives her added depth.

River comes in last, though I loved her in Shindig as well where she really messed with Badger's head.
Okay, River might reign supreme in my heart, but let’s be real, Kaylee and Zoe are super amazingly awesome. I love the female characters in this show. Period. End of story.

Like you, I love that Kaylee is so optimistic and upbeat. She breathes life into the show. Can you imagine the Serenity without Kaylee? I sure don’t want to.

Also, Zoe is so amazing. I too love her dry humor, and I really really appreciate her relationship with Wash. So often in tv, every relationship on a show must be full of drama, lies or obstacles. I LOVED that we just got a super healthy, super strong married couple who really truly loved eachother, and I love in “War Stories” when it seems like Zoe will have to choose between these two men ooooooooh oh no! But she Immediately chooses her husband. Now THAT’S a strong relationship.

Yes, Inara is actually pretty great too. What I love most is she totally defies expectations. Whenever I try to describe her role in the show to anyone, they get the wrong idea. They get wrapped up in “what she does”. But no. She is not only the classiest, most diplomatic of them, she’s also incredibly warm and nurturing. She is just as sly as the rest, if not more so! Inara has so many levels, you’ll have to watch the show over and over to find them.
 
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thrasherpix
I also think she instantly chose her husband to deprive the sadist the pleasure of forcing her to painfully choose, and also because she figured Mal could last longer.

ILLYRIAN

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Odd isn't it that the only decent actor in the Terminator - The Sarah Connor Chronicles is the cyborg that is Summer Glau. Was her bad foot an accident whilst performing or a factory malfunction?
 
BuffyNvrForgets
BuffyNvrForgets
Haha! I guess we’ll never know…

BuffyNvrForgets

Slayerette
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thrasherpix I also think she instantly chose her husband to deprive the sadist the pleasure of forcing her to painfully choose, and also because she figured Mal could last longer.
True, strategy did infact play a big part, I'm sure. Very "Zoe" of her, haha!
 
T
thrasherpix
Seeing that sadist's frustration was satisfying, though I do think that's why he cut off part of Mal's ear out of spite, but Zoe didn't give him the pleasure of her pain.

BuffyNvrForgets

Slayerette
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@ILLYRIAN : Did you watch the bloopers, quite often the other actors would blame River for their bloopers, yeah naughty River!
There is actually a pretty funny story about this!!!

So, it didn't happen until the movie. As they were filming the one shot for the beginning of the movie with all the crew moving through the ship, they all did it perfectly until Summer at the end. She stumbled on her line or something. Afterwards, several of the cast cried out "SUMMER!!!"

After that, every time anyone messed up, everyone would yell “SUMMER!!!”. It’s a tradition a few of the actors have actually brought to other sets they’ve worked on. (I might be wrong, but Nathan Fillion on Castle sounds right)

a bit of this can be seen in the Serenity blooper reel.

The whole cast is so funny. Such fun to watch!
 

Fuffy Baith

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Sarah Michelle Gellar and Eliza Dushku are pretty great…what have been the best shows you’ve discovered because of them? Any recommendations?
I loved SMG in The Crazy Ones with Robin Williams. I watched her show Ringer but it's just okay. I do like Tru Calling with Eliza, I wish it didn't just end. I love Dollhouse. Even though I didn't watch Banshee, I watched the episodes Eliza was in.
Kaylee and Zoe are super amazingly awesome.
I don't know why, but I'm not a Gina Torres fan either. I recently watched The Matriz: Reloaded and she has a small cameo in the beginning. I was like "it's the Firefly lady!" Even if I don't love some actors from Whedon shows I'm always excited whenever I see them pop up in something.
 

BuffyNvrForgets

Slayerette
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I loved SMG in The Crazy Ones with Robin Williams. I watched her show Ringer but it's just okay. I do like Tru Calling with Eliza, I wish it didn't just end. I love Dollhouse. Even though I didn't watch Banshee, I watched the episodes Eliza was in.

I don't know why, but I'm not a Gina Torres fan either. I recently watched The Matriz: Reloaded and she has a small cameo in the beginning. I was like "it's the Firefly lady!" Even if I don't love some actors from Whedon shows I'm always excited whenever I see them pop up in something.
Ooohh, I really want to watch The Crazy Ones! I’ve seen a clip or two on YouTube, and they are so funny! (Robin Williams was, and always will be a treasure)
I just have to find it somewhere for cheap/free…
 
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