Star Trek: Brent Spiner Talks Data Being Double-Edged Sword To Play

Brent Spiner has a unique perspective on the Star Trek franchise since his days on Next Generation. His primary role on the series is Data, the android Starfleet officer, who aspired to be more human. He's also played his evil twin Lore, the prototype B-4, and his human creator Dr. Noonien Soong, his past ancestor Dr. Arik Soong on Enterprise, and most recently, descendent Dr. Alton Soong on Picard. Like his co-stars from the series, Spiner is cognizant no matter what he does, he's forever synonymous as Data even as he last provided closure for the character (for now) in the Paramount+ series in its first season finale.

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Image courtesy of ViacomCBS

While promoting his upcoming fictional biography Fan Fiction: A Mem-Noir – Inspired by True Events, Spiner spoke with The Washington Post (via /Film) about his original plans for the memoir contributing the bare minimum until it took a life of its own. "I was going to tell [my ghost writer] a quick story, have a couple glasses of wine and reap the benefits," he said. It would be that ghostwriter, Jeanne Darst, who suggested tweaking the story of his time on TNG providing a fictional account reimagined as a mystery story wherein he was being pursued by a fictional stalker. Spiner's wife and cast members like Jonathan Frakes (William Riker) lend their voices as fictionalized versions of themselves. The actor /writer recalled the problems often associated with typecasting from playing such an iconic character in the sci-fi genre affecting his acting career.

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Brent Spiner as Dr. Alltan Inigo Soong in Star Trek: Picard. Image courtesy of CBS All Access/ViacomCBS

"The larger part of that sword has been very positive. It's been a great job. On the other hand, what I was trained to do was to play as many different things as possible, so it has been limiting sort of in that way. I think there are times maybe I haven't gotten a job because I am so identified with the character. I, frankly, like to think I've been typecast as the reason when I don't get jobs, because the alternative is that I'm just lousy. But all that being said with relation to character, if I had to have one character that I had to be typecast as, it would be this character. There is a feeling of trust people have in the character that he's incapable of hurting them."

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Brent Spiner in Star Trek: Picard. Image courtesy of ViacomCBS

Spiner remained thankful that Star Trek has allowed him to be flexible as an actor, not only playing his own ancestors but also allowing Data to be his vessel for acting in other roles too. "But also, because I also got to play so many different things on the show as him, I got to try on the skin of all kinds of different types of humanity," he said. "I got to play his brother, his father, his uncle, his ancestors. It turned out to be a role that I was actually able to stretch a bit."

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About Tom Chang

I'm a follower of pop culture from gaming, comics, sci-fi, fantasy, film, and TV for over 30 years. I grew up reading magazines like Starlog, Mad, and Fangoria. As a writer for over 10 years, Star Wars was the first sci-fi franchise I fell in love with. I'm a nerd-of-all-trades.
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