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Summer Glau is playing a Terminator like you've never seen before.

In Fox's new series, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Glau's Cameron is introduced as an "enigmatic and otherworldly student" at John Connor's high school, who soon proves to be much more; as a Terminator she assumes the role of Sarah and John's fearless protector.

"The most interesting thing about playing Cameron and the fact that she is a Terminator is that the way Josh (Friedman, executive producer) wrote Cameron is very delicate," Glau said. "Every Terminator in our story is different, and what I think is interesting is that, instead of making Cameron a more advanced machine by being able to turn into different things and or being able to meld and come back to a different form, instead of going that direction, he's going more into an emotional direction.

"Cameron doesn't feel things, but she almost can. And she can absolutely mimick human emotion. And that's been the most challenging thing for me. And as an actress approaching a scene, knowing that you can't really feel anything thing is really complicated and complex."

Glau, 26, is well known to genre fans through her work on Angel, Firefly/Serenity and The 4400. She said she initially was reluctant to go for the Terminator role, until she discovered the character's differences from previous Terminators.

"She's a Terminator that looks like a girl next door," Glau said. "She's not perfect. They let me keep my scar. I'm almost human in the way I react.

"It's a different kind of character than I've ever done, but I do know that when I was testing for the role, they watched some of my other work, my work from Serenity where I did all those fight scenes and I did it myself. I really do think that helped me. It gave them the confidence to say that this girl can at least get in there and do some of her own stuff.

"And, for me as a dancer, I was a ballet dancer all my life, I do approach roles in a very physical way. So it's really rewarding to play characters that allow me to really focus on that, too."

Glau said she is enjoying the show's balance.

"When I read the script, what I liked most about it, is that there is a lot of action," she said. "It's very exciting and we're doing lots of different things with cars and guns and explosions and things. But it's also so much about the characters and just their lives together and their relationships.

"I think the way it's written is very smart and very funny, but it's also very personal."

Glau said she has developed a "unique" and "natural" chemistry with Thomas Dekker, who plays John Connor.

"She's kind of a mysterious character and so is he when he comes into this school," she said. "That's how I meet him -- he's a new kid in school. And their relationship is really fun. They're both a little bit different, a little bit of a loner, and they make a connection."

"Cameron, she's got a lot of surprises coming," Dekker said. "She's very human, which makes it harder on John becuase she's not so obviously robotic, so he's constantly in the sweep, 'I like her. I can't like her.' It's going to be a really interesting relationship with John and Cameron, that's for sure."

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles premieres on Fox on Sunday, Jan. 13 at 8 p.m. (ET/PT).

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