Summer Glau: Why She Stopped Acting And Where She’s At Now

By Rick Gonzales

Summer Glau

Many know her as River Tam. Some probably know her as Cameron Phillips. But whatever name you know actress Summer Glau by, you’re probably wondering why you haven’t seen her on screen in a few years. What happened to Summer Glau? Here’s what we know about where she’s been and what Summer’s doing now…


River Tam

Summer Glau grabbed her first acting gig in 2002 as a ballerina on the hit TV show Angel. Though it was only one episode, Glau caught the eye of series creator Joss Whedon.

She really must have made an impression because she turned that one episode into starring in Whedon’s next big hit TV series, Firefly. Summer Glau’s character, River Tam, was a complex character that Glau handled with ease. As Tam, the character was forced into government experiments in which she was being prepared to become the perfect assassin. As a result, the ability of Tam to control her emotions was taken away from her.

On Firefly Glau was able to show off not only her acting ability but her ability to fight. The fact that she was being trained to be an assassin allowed Glau to fully use her athletic ability. Summer Glau is a classically trained ballerina. Her dancing prowess also includes studies in tango and flamenco but it was a broken toe that ended her dancing career.

Firefly lasted only one season but it gained a passionate fan base. So passionate that Whedon went back to it a couple years later. In the meantime though, Summer Glau continued to get some quality work. She was seen on TV shows like Cold Case and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.


Summer Glau

It’s nice to have a passionate fan base. Firefly gained that and two years after the series went away, Whedon made the movie Serenity, bringing back Summer Glau as River Tam. The movie was a hit and it once again solidified Glau as an actress who could handle a role that called for a little bit action.

Her role was so liked that Summer Glau received a Best Supporting Actress award at the 2006 Saturn Awards.


Summer Glau

Summer Glau’s next big pay day when in 2008 she was tapped to play Cameron Phillips in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. The series was set after the events of Terminator 2 and Glau’s character was part of a team that was sent back to help protect Sarah and her son John from Skynet. The series lasted two season and did nothing to hurt her status in Hollywood.


Summer Glau on Arrow

Summer Glau continued to find work after Terminator was cancelled. In fact, one of her first gigs after Terminator was one more reunion with Whedon on his show Dollhouse. She was seen in four episodes of the show. Glau went on to find roles in Chuck, Grey’s Anatomy, and Alphas. She was in two more short-lived TV shows called The Cape and Sequestered. Glau also found herself on nine-episode run on the hit CW show Arrow.

With all Glau has done in Hollywood, it is surprising that her last role came back in 2016 when she guest starred on the hit TV show Castle. This was a brief reunion with the show’s star Nathan Fillion, who was her Captain in both Firefly and Serenity.

Summer Glau kiss
Summer Glau on Wu Assassins

Summer Glau mostly stopped working as an actress in 2016. Since then she’s only appeared as a memorable guest star on the 2019 Netflix series Wu Assassins.


Summer now
Summer Glau on Wu Assassins

While Glau’s absence from TV has been somewhat of a surprise, there could be a good reason for it. Glau gave birth to her first daughter in 2015 and then had her second daughter in 2017. It was after the birth of her first daughter that Summer first began to scale back on her acting career.

Below is one of the last time she was seen out in public, taking photos with fans…

Motherhood has a way of putting life in perspective and that would be a great reason Glau hasn’t been seen for some time. Let’s hope that she does find her way back to the small screen, she is a talent for sure.