Brent Spiner

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Brent Spiner
Brent Spiner by Gage Skidmore.jpg
Spiner in May 2012
Born Brent Jay Spiner
(1949-02-02) February 2, 1949 (age 65)
Houston, Texas, U.S.
Alma mater University of Houston
Occupation Actor, Comedian, Musician
Years active 1970–present
Website
www.therealbrentspiner.com

Brent Jay Spiner (/ˈspnər/, born February 2, 1949) is an American actor, best known for his portrayal of the android Lieutenant Commander Data in the television series Star Trek: The Next Generation and four subsequent films. His portrayal of Data in Star Trek: First Contact and of Dr. Brackish Okun in Independence Day, both in 1996, earned him a Saturn Award and Saturn Award nomination respectively.

He has also enjoyed a career in the theatre and as a musician.

Early life[edit]

Brent Jay Spiner was born February 2, 1949 in Houston, Texas to Sylvia and Jack Spiner, who owned a furniture store.[1][2] After his father's death, Spiner was adopted by Sylvia's second husband, Sol Mintz, whose surname he used between 1955 and 1975.[3] He attended Bellaire High School, Bellaire, Texas. Spiner became active on the Bellaire Speech team, winning the national championship in dramatic interpretation. He attended the University of Houston where he performed in local theatre.[4]

Career[edit]

Early work[edit]

Spiner moved to New York City, where he became a stage actor, performing in several Broadway and Off-Broadway plays, including The Three Musketeers and Stephen Sondheim's Sunday in the Park with George. He had a non-speaking background role in the film Stardust Memories as one of the silent Felliniesque "grotesques" on Sandy Bates's train car.

Spiner appeared as a media technician in "The Advocates", a second season episode of the Showtime cable series The Paper Chase.[5] In 1984, he moved to Los Angeles, where he appeared in several pilots and made-for-TV movies. He played a recurring character on Night Court, Bob Wheeler, patriarch of a rural family. In 1986, he played a condemned soul in "Dead Run", an episode of the short-lived revival of Rod Serling's series The Twilight Zone on CBS. He made two appearances in season 3 (1986) of the situation comedy Mama's Family, playing two different characters. Spiner's first and only starring film role was in Rent Control (1984). In the Cheers episode "Never Love a Goalie, Part II", he played acquitted murder suspect Bill Grand. Spiner also had a role in a Tales from the Darkside episode, "A Case of the Stubborns", as a priest who experiences a crisis of faith. He portrayed Jim Stevens in the made-for-TV movie Manhunt for Claude Dallas.

Star Trek[edit]

In 1987, Spiner started his 15-year run portraying Lieutenant Commander Data on Star Trek: The Next Generation, which spanned seven seasons and four feature films. As a main character, he appeared in all but one of the series' 178 episodes; he was not in the episode "Family". He reprised his role in the spin-off films Star Trek Generations (1994), Star Trek: First Contact (1996), Star Trek: Insurrection (1998) and Star Trek: Nemesis (2002). Although billed as the final Trek movie for the TNG cast, the ambiguous ending of Star Trek: Nemesis suggested a possible avenue for the return of Data. However, Spiner has opined that he is too old to continue playing the part, as Data embodies a "childlike innocence" that Spiner can no longer credibly exhibit, as his appearance had already begun to lose that quality by the time he filmed his last Trek films.[6][7] In addition to the series and films, he voiced his character in several Star Trek video games, such as Star Trek Generations, Star Trek: The Next Generation - A Final Unity, Star Trek: Hidden Evil and Star Trek: Bridge Commander.[8] After appearing in several episodes as the ancestor of Data's creator, Dr. Soong, Spiner also recorded dialogue as Data that was heard in the final episode of Star Trek: Enterprise, "These Are the Voyages...", which aired in 2005, bringing the Star Trek TV franchise Spiner had helped establish 18 years earlier to a close.

Album[edit]

In 1991, Spiner recorded an album of 1940s pop standards entitled Ol' Yellow Eyes Is Back, the title of which was a play on the yellow contact lenses Spiner wore as Data, and the title of a Frank Sinatra record, Ol' Blue Eyes Is Back. In 1997, he returned to Broadway, playing John Adams in the Roundabout Theatre Company revival of the musical 1776. The production was nominated for a Tony Award. A cast recording was released of the revival production.[9]

After Star Trek[edit]

Spiner has appeared in the television series Deadly Games, Dream On, Frasier, Friends, Gargoyles, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Mad About You and The Outer Limits. In the series The Big Bang Theory and Joey, he appeared as himself. He has acted in the movies The Aviator, Dude, Where's My Car?, I Am Sam, Independence Day, The Master of Disguise, Out to Sea, Phenomenon, The Ponder Heart and South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut. His television-movie appearances during this period include the 2000 musical Geppetto and the role of Dorothy Dandridge's manager and confidant, Earl Mills, in the HBO production Introducing Dorothy Dandridge.

In 2004, Spiner returned to Star Trek when he appeared as Dr. Arik Soong, an ancestor of Data's creator Dr. Noonien Soong, whom he also played, in a three-episode story arc of Star Trek: Enterprise: "Borderland", "Cold Station 12" and "The Augments". He also briefly reprised the role of Data for the series, providing a voice-only cameo in the Enterprise finale "These Are the Voyages...". Spiner guest-starred in Friends as a man who interviews Rachel for Gucci, and later cameoed as himself in the Friends spin-off Joey.

In 2005, Spiner appeared in a short-lived science-fiction television series Threshold, which was canceled in November of that year after 13 episodes. In 2006, he appeared in a feature film comedy, Material Girls, with Hilary and Haylie Duff.

During the tenth season of the situation comedy Frasier, in the episode "Lilith Needs a Favor", Spiner made two brief cameos as a fellow airline passenger with Frasier Crane's ex-wife, Lilith Sternin.

In March 2008, Spiner performed alongside Maude Maggart in a radio show/musical, Dreamland, which was released as a CD album.[10]

In 2008, Spiner played Dr. Strom in the feature film parody Superhero Movie. In February 2009, he played William Quint in "The Juror #6 Job", an episode of the drama series Leverage directed by his Next Generation co-star Jonathan Frakes. That same year, he voiced himself in the Family Guy episode "Not All Dogs Go to Heaven".

Spiner with William Shatner and LeVar Burton in July 2010

In 2010, Spiner and fellow Star Trek: The Next Generation star LeVar Burton appeared on TWiT.tv's coverage of the Consumer Electronics Show.[11]

In April 2011, Spiner began starring in Fresh Hell, a comic webseries in which he plays a version of himself, attempting to put his career back together after falling out of the limelight.[12]

He appeared as Dr. Kern in the September 12, 2011 episode of the Syfy channel program Alphas entitled "Blind Spot". In October 2011, he appeared as himself in the episode "The Russian Rocket Reaction" (October 13, 2011) of The Big Bang Theory. The day after his guest appearance on The Big Bang Theory, it was announced that Spiner would guest-star in the Young Justice episode "Revelation", providing the voice of the Joker.[13] Spiner has also guest starred on the Syfy channel program Warehouse 13 as Brother Adrian in the third and fourth seasons. In episode 7 of season 4, the character Pete Lattimer jokingly describes another obsessively tidy, character in this episode as "Commander Data".

Spiner's web site is at therealbrentspiner.com. He selected that domain name because someone else bought the domain name brentspiner.com before he could do so, and he was not amenable to paying the price the owners demanded for it, which Spiner called "inflated".[14]

Personal life[edit]

Spiner is a vegetarian,[15] and is left handed.[16] He is the godfather of the son of his Star Trek co-star, Gates McFadden.[17]

Videography[edit]

Film[edit]

Film
Year Film Role Notes
1970 My Sweet Charlie Local Uncredited
1980 Stardust Memories Fan in lobby
1982 Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains Corinne Burns's Boss Uncredited
1984 Rent Control Leonard Junger
1985 Crime of Innocence Hinnerman
1986 Sunday in the Park with George Franz/Dennis
1986 Sylvan in Paradise Clinton C. Waddle
1986 Manhunt for Claude Dall Jim Stevens
1987 Family Sins Ken McMahon
1989 Miss Firecracker Preacher Mann
1991 Crazy from the Heart

TV Movie; uncredited

1994 Corrina, Corrina Brent Witherspoon
1994 Star Trek Generations Lt. Commander Data
1995 Kingfish: A Story of Huey Long Uncredited
1996 Pie in the Sky Upscale Guy
1996 Independence Day Dr. Brackish Okun
1996 Phenomenon Dr. Rob Niedorf
1996 Star Trek: First Contact Lt. Commander Data
1997 Out to Sea Gil Godwyn
1998 Star Trek: Insurrection Lt. Commander Data
1999 South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut Conan O'Brien Voice
1999 Introducing Dorothy Dandridge Earl Parks
2000 Geppetto Stromboli
2000 Dude, Where's My Car? Pierre Uncredited
2001 A Girl Thing Bob
2001 The Ponder Heart Dorris Grabney
2001 I Am Sam Shoe Salesman
2002 The Master of Disguise Devlin Bowman
2002 Star Trek Nemesis Lt. Commander Data/B-4
2003 An Unexpected Love Brad
2004 Jack Vernon
2004 The Aviator Robert Gross
2006 Material Girls Tommy Katzenbach
2008 Superhero Movie Dr. Strom
2010 Quantum Quest: A Cassini Space Odyssey Coach Mackey Voice

Television[edit]

Film
Year Film Role Notes
1978 The Dain Curse Tom Fink TV mini-series
1979 Family Fred 1 episode, "Prelude"
1981 Ryan's Hope The Doctor Examining Kim 1 episode
1984 The Paper Chase Student in Reeve's Class 1 episode, "The Advocates"
1984 Tales from the Darkside Reverend Peabody 1 episode, "A Case of the Stubborns"
1984 One Life to Live Ralph Harley 1 episode
1985 Robert Kennedy & His Times Allard Lowenstein TV mini-series
1985 Hill Street Blues Larry Stein 1 episode, "The Life and Time of Domonic Florio Jr"
1985-1987 Night Court Bob Wheeler 6 episodes
1986 The New Twilight Zone The Draft Dodger 1 episode, "The Leprechaun-Artist/Dead Run"
1986 American Playhouse Dennis/Franz 1 episode, "Sunday in the Park with George"
1986 Hunter Willie Vaughn 1 episode, "The Contract"
1986-1987 Mama's Family Billy Bob Conroy 2 episodes
1987 Cheers Bill Grand 1 episode, "Never Love a Goalie (Part 2)"
1987 Sledge Hammer! Soldier 1 episode, "The Spa Who Loved Me"
1987-1994 Star Trek: The Next Generation Lt. Commander Data/Lore/Dr. Noonien Soong 177 episodes
1995 Mad About You Bob, The Dog Agent 1 episode, "Just My Dog"
1995 Deadly Games Danny Schlecht 1 episode, "The Practical Joker"
1995-1996 Gargoyles Puck 4 episodes
1996 Dream On Dr. Strongwater 1 episode, "The Spirit of 76th & Park"
1996 The Outer Limits Professor Trent Davis 1 episode, "The Deprogrammers"
2003 Frasier Albert 1 episode, "Lilith Needs a Favor"
2004 Friends James Campbell Season 10 episode 14: "The One with Princess Consuela"
2004 Law & Order: Criminal Intent Graham Barnes 1 episode, "Shrink-Wrapped"
2004-2005 Star Trek: Enterprise Dr. Arik Soong/Lt. Commander Data 4 episodes
2005 Joey Himself 1 episode: "Joey and the Premier"
2005-2006 Threshold Dr. Nigel Fenway 13 episodes
2009 Leverage William Quint 1 episode, "The Juror #6 Job"
2009 Family Guy Himself 1 episode, "Not All Dogs Go to Heaven"
2010-2013 Generator Rex Dr. Gabriel Rylander 4 episodes
2011 Fresh Hell Himself/Brent Spiner
2011 The Guild Himself 1 episode, "Ends and Begins"
2011 Alphas Dr. Kern 1 episode, "Blind Spot"
2011 The Big Bang Theory Himself 1 episode, "The Russian Rocket Reaction"
2011 Young Justice The Joker 1 episode, "Revelation"
2012 The Simpsons Robots 1 episode, "Them, Robot"
2012 The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes Purple Man 1 episode, "Emperor Stark"
2012- Warehouse 13 Brother Adrian 6 episodes, Season 4
2013- Wendell & Vinnie Himself 1 episode, "Swindle & Vinnie"
2014 Ray Donovan Therapist 2 episodes
2014- Star Wars Rebels ??? [18][19]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Brent Spiner Biography (1949-)". Film Reference. Retrieved 2010-12-09. 
  2. ^ "Brent Spiner". Yahoo! TV. 1949-02-02. Retrieved 2010-12-09. 
  3. ^ Lipton, Michael A. "Can Data Find a Mate-A?" People magazine; vol. 37, No. 22; June 8, 1992Spelling, Ian (July 23, 2012). "Brent Spiner set to return to Warehouse 13". readingeagle.com
  4. ^ "Before Brent Spiner was Famous". National Forensic League. Retrieved June 17, 2011
  5. ^ "The Advocates". The Paper Chase. Season 2. Episode 17. August 7, 1984.
  6. ^ Thompson, Simon. "Brent Spiner Rules Out Star Trek XI", ComingSoon.net. Retrieved November 16, 2010
  7. ^ "Brent Spiner on BBC Breakfast" on YouTube, BBC Breakfast, September 23, 2006. Retrieved November 16, 2010
  8. ^ Lee, Luaine (January 9, 2003). "A Data with Star Trek again". 9 January 2003 (The New Zealand Herald). Retrieved 9 December 2010. 
  9. ^ 1776: The New Broadway Cast Recording (1997). Amazon.com. Retrieved July 23, 2012.
  10. ^ Tenuto, John (April 27, 2008). "Review: Brent Spiner’s Dreamland + Interview + Signed CD Giveaway". TrekMovie.com
  11. ^ Running time: 12:53. "The TWiT Netcast Network with Leo Laporte". Twit.tv. Retrieved 2010-12-09. 
  12. ^ Brent Spiner's channel on YouTube
  13. ^ "Young Justice Recruits Brent Spiner and Alyssa Milano for the Injustice League - Today's News: Our Take". TV Guide. 2011-10-14. Retrieved 2011-12-10. 
  14. ^ "Brent Spiner Interview". Cinemassacre. May 6, 2012.
  15. ^ Soper, Taylor (May 30, 2013). "Q&A: Star Trek’s ‘Data’ on autism, space travel, and the link between humanity and technology". Geek Wire. 
  16. ^ "Famous Left Handed people". famouslefties.com. February 2, 2014. 
  17. ^ "Spiner And McFadden Interview About New Collaboration". startrek.com. September 18, 2013. 
  18. ^ "Star Trek's Brent Spiner Joins Star Wars Rebels". cosmicbooknews.com. 2014-02-18. Retrieved 5/10/14.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  19. ^ "Brent Spiner Voicing Mystery Role on ‘Star Wars Rebels’; Two More Characters Revealed". nerdbastards.com. 2014-02-19. Retrieved 5/10/14.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)

External links[edit]

General
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