With such movies as Green Lantern and Green Arrow, and TV fare like ABC’s No Ordinary Family and Clark Kent inching closer to truly becoming Superman on CW’s Smallville’s final season, it’s a good time to be a superhero. And NBC knows it, as the network premieres its genre-themed drama The Cape on Sunday.
Starring ER’s David Lyons as Vince Faraday as a good-guy cop with a son who has an affinity for a comic book hero named The Cape, Faraday is framed for a murder he didn’t commit and believed dead. Found by a band of carnies (think HBO’s Clea Duvall starrer Carnivale rather than traditional circus clowns), Faraday learns the tricks of the trade and sets out to set the record straight by going after shady billionaire Peter Fleming (True Blood’s James Frain) who also has a secret double life: as twisted killer Chess.
Along the way, Faraday meets Orwell — played by a feisty Summer Glau (Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse, Firefly and Serenity) — a blogger out to expose all of the crooked cops in the fictional Palm City who becomes Robin to Lyons’ Batman.
AfterEllen.com caught up with Glau at The Cape’s premiere party Tuesday in Hollywood to discuss playing Orwell and her surprising back story, playing kick-ass women and what being part of the Whedon family means to her.
AfterEllen.com: What can you tell me about your character?
Summer Glau: Orwell is this mercenary princess; she’s been on her own since she was 12 and she has this mission to take down [Fleming’s] Ark corporation. She also loves beautiful things; she’s always driving the most amazing sports cars so nobody really knows how she’s getting her money. She’s fighting for what she believes in and she has her own rules and doesn’t answer to anybody.
AE: You keep getting these sci-fi projects. How much does being part of the sci-fi genre world interest you?
SG: It always inspires me. I love being in fantastical situations. What I really appreciate about our story and am inspired by is that [the show’s Palm City] not a real city and it’s not an everyday situation but everyone watching could picture themselves being these people. You get really invested. It’s not your everyday cop drama; it’s something a little more exciting.
AE: You have an incredible — and loyal — following as part of the Joss Whedon family. What does that mean to you?
SG: I feel so blessed. The one thing about it is that once you’ve had it, you don’t ever want it to go away. I felt so much support and love from being in Joss Whedon’s family that every time I go out and try to do something on my own there’s always that “Are you still going to like what I’m doing” fear. So this is a big week for me.
AE: You’ve got an avid following for playing so many strong female characters. Is that something you look for when you select projects?
SG: Always. You have to be inspired by the roles that you chose. I want to play roles that make me feel good about being a woman and Orwell is taking that and running with it; it’s a great person to live with everyday.
AE: What will lesbian fans like about The Cape?
SG: I think that everybody in this story is fighting for what they believe in and doing what they think is right at all costs. I find that really inspiring for myself and I hope everyone is inspired by that and relates to it. I hope that they’ll like it.
AE: How does Orwell compare to all the characters you’ve played in the past?
SG: She’s another strong female character but she’s also a little bit more sophisticated and grown up, which is where I’m trying to be in my life, too. When I read the role, it felt right for me. Orwell is still a young woman but she follows her heart and she knows what she believes in and it inspires me and pushes me in my life.
AE: What are you most looking forward to in Orwell’s story line?
SG: I’m really excited for people to see her back story and see why someone like her has ended up isolated and fighting for something and risking her life. I’ve been surprised by her back story as I’ve been reading the scripts. I’m really excited for people to see the variety of actors that we have. This show has been the biggest range of a cast that I’ve been a part of so far. I think people are going to have a lot of fun with that.
AE: What about Orwell’s back story surprised you?
SG: I’m not allowed to say! I’m supposed to keep it a secret.
AE: Are you playing a lesbian?!
SG: Who knows?
The Cape’s two-hour series premiere airs Sunday at 9 p.m., and will air subsequent episodes on Mondays at 9 p.m. Will you tune in to see how Glau’s back story unfolds?