Exclusive Interview: Brent Spiner Talks Fresh Hell and Star Trek: TNG @25 | TrekMovie.com
jump to navigation

Exclusive Interview: Brent Spiner Talks Fresh Hell and Star Trek: TNG @25 March 22, 2012

by Anthony Pascale , Filed under: Celebrity,Interview,TNG , trackback

On Friday Star Trek: The Next Generation’s Brent Spiner debuts the first episode of the second season of his comedy webseries Fresh Hell. So TrekMovie thought it world be a good time to check in with the actor to talk about season two, along with talking some Trek of course.

 

Spiner talks Fresh Hell and TNG @25

Last year Brent Spiner played "Brent Spiner" in the first series of the comedy webseries Fresh Hell (you can catch all 5 webisodes on YouTube). The show tells the tale of how "Brent" is trying to get his career back on track after he was involved in an unnamed (yet apparently very embarrassing) incident. Season two, which will have 10 webisodes,  kicks off on Friday. Today TrekMovie talks to Spiner about the show and about Star Trek: TNG turning 25.

TrekMovie: Let’s start with your latest TV appearance, last weekend’s Simpsons. So you get a call from them and they say "so we want you to play a robot," did that feel a bit too on the nose?

Brent Spiner: No, well it wasn’t just a robot it was many robots and that made all the difference. If they had said "just a robot" I wouldn’t have done it. The truth is, it was The Simpsons for god’s sake. It is one of those shows that you can say you were on. 

TrekMovie: I was surprised they didn’t do a more overt Star Trek reference, like when they had Nimoy and Takei in the past.

Brent Spiner: I don’t think they knew I was on Star Trek. I think they thought, who would make a good voice for a robot and they thought "the guy from Introducing Dorothy Dandridge" and then they got me.


Spiner’s many robots on The Simpsons ("Them, Robot")

TrekMovie: So the second season of Fresh Hell starts on Friday. What can we expect from season two?

Brent Spiner: You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll be glad you aren’t me. I don’t want to give anything away and because the episodes are so short, if I tell you just one sentence I’ll give away the whole show.

TrekMovie: As I understand it, the people who work with you on the show are all pitching in their time in between other projects. Is this something that you are all doing as a proof of concept, in hopes that you can sell it to an HBO or a Showtime or someone on TV turns it into a series?

Brent Spiner: I would be fine if it were the Fabric Network. I would like to do it on television so we could do longer episodes. We can’t afford to do that on our own, we don’t have a sponsor. Obviously in my dream of dreams either have it on TV or get a sponsor and we can do it in this format, which is fine with me too.

TrekMovie: Shows like Curb Your Enthusiasm and Episodes seem to a new sub-genre of celebrities playing versions of themselves. So how much of the real you is in Fresh Hell’s Brent Spiner?

Brent Spiner: The real me? I’ll give it 10% because I do actually look like that. Basically it’s me but it’s not me. It’s me in another reality. The whole piece is a metaphor for our times. Every day you see on the web about how some celebrity has done something terrible that they have to apologize for or go into rehab or anger management and it wrecks their career at least for a time. "The Incident" that we talk about on the show is really a MacGuffin. It was that thing that wrecked his career but it doesn’t matter what it is. It really is that subtextual incident and that incident is about getting older and getting used up and getting kicked out of this fraternity you have been in and wanted to be in your whole life. And where you go from there and how do you get back in and the desperation about getting back to where you once belonged.


Teaser for Fresh Hell Season 2

TrekMovie: So as a MacGuffin are we never going to find out what the incident was?

Brent Spiner: I wouldn’t say that. It is likely you won’t but you very well might. We do know what the incident was and it would be a shame to never reveal it because it is pretty fun. We will see. Depends on how long we do it and when we feel is the right time to reveal it.

TrekMovie: Are there shows, like Curb Your Enthusiasm, that you look to as a model?

Brent Spiner: The closest thing taste-wise and in sensibilities is Extras – Ricky Gervais’ show. There is something sad about it. There is nothing sad about Larry David. Curb is a show about a guy that happens to the world. Mine is a show where the world is happening to this guy. Larry is happy and successful. It is all going great for him, it is the damage he does in his wake. My guy is the victim. That is why we call it a "sit-trag." Although it is presented in a completely comic way and we are after laughs, there is a serious subtext to it that is sad and heartbreaking. And I always felt there is something like that in Ricky’s show Extras. I always felt very sad for that character, even when he was becoming successful. When he became most successful, that was the saddest he was. 

TrekMovie: With a lot of these shows, like Larry’s and Ricky’s, often they bring in some of their real-life colleagues. So in season two of Fresh Hell should we expect any of your friends and colleagues showing up, maybe some Star Trek co-stars? 

Brent Spiner: Well that is very possible. I have been hearing a lot of noise from Meryl Streep and Johnny Depp, but I don’t think they are right for it. I am holding out for people that I actually know right now. We’ll see. I don’t want to give anything away.

TrekMovie: Obviously this is the 25th anniversary year of Star Trek: The Next Generation

Brent Spiner: Why is that obvious? Do I look that bad? [laughs] People are starting to write me and say "you remind me of Dr. Soong." Twenty five years! Yes it is.

TrekMovie: Well I know you aren’t the kind person who does a lot of navel gazing on your past career, but if you were…what would you say you are most proud of from your time on Trek? And what are you most critical from the show?

Brent Spiner: It’s a funny thing. Patrick [Stewart] said – very early in the run of the show- if one word describes us at our very best and our very worst at the same time, that word is "worthy." And I thought "you know what, you have got something there." It was wonderful because it was worthy, and its worthiness made it sometimes dull. But pride? I was happy that I was on it. I think it was a good thing and continues to be. I get really good feedback from the fans. After 25 years people are still discovering it and embracing. I am pleased to be part of something that has been going for almost fifty. It is the biggest thing that has happened in American television. What has been longer-lasting and had more hours than Star Trek? Once it hit fifty years, it is hard making fun of it. It is a major phenomenon and that has been fun to be part of, I feel lucky to be part of it.

I don’t know what the worst thing about it. I don’t like to focus on it. No matter what I say, I am going to get grief for it.


Spiner playing the aged Dr. Soong on TNG and as Brent Spiner on "Fresh Hell"
- not exactly a match

That’s it for part 1 of the TrekMovie interview. Tune in tomorrow for part 2 where I press Brent and get him to spill on his least favorite episode along with talking about Nemesis, JJ Abrams Star Trek and more. 

Comments

1. Harry Ballz - March 22, 2012

Boy, Spiner just LOVES to give his opinion on things.

Like at every Star Trek convention, he sticks his nose into other cast member’s stage appearances. The fans want to hear Patrick Stewart and they’re forced to listen to Brent Spiner hog the show.

Sheesh, what an ego!

2. Gary S. - March 22, 2012

Well he my have have had a very long 15 minutes ,
But, it is going to end someday and he is going to enjoy it for as long as he can.
I might be the same way in his position.

3. Basement Blogger - March 22, 2012

Great interview. Brent is funny and witty. Good luck to him.

4. Battle-scarred Sciatica - March 23, 2012

Brent makes me laugh and I loved him as himself in Fresh Hell.

Good interview (well half interview) and look forward to the rest and look forward to S02 of Fresh Hell.

He’s a witty bloke who’s character Data had a shitty end.

5. Jack - March 23, 2012

1. Howdy, Harry. Wait, what? Was that spurred by this interview? Read your comment first and then the interview and thought he came cross pretty okay. But, yeah, I’ve never seen him in person (and do, generally, find him a little smug in any role other than Data).

6. Anthony Thompson - March 23, 2012

He’s an interesting and witty guy. Very much looking forward to his new episodes!

7. Romulus - March 23, 2012

Boy Harry just LOVES to give his opinion on things.

Like when he tried to turn an article into a Brent Spiner Bash.

Sheesh, what an ego!

8. secondary back ups - March 23, 2012

i see what you did there

9. Beer Guy - March 23, 2012

If there’s someone else in Hollywood with a keener sense of humor than Brent Spiner, I’d like to know who that is. I even loved him in “Out to Sea” with Jack Lemmon and Walter Mathau. Brent has a tremendous wit and intellect!

10. I'm Dead Jim! - March 23, 2012

Love Fresh Hell. Spiner should put that poster up for sale to raise money for the show. I think I’d buy it.

11. jamesingeneva - March 23, 2012

Ah, this was refreshing, thanks Anthony! Can’t wait for P2!

12. Commodore Mike of the Terran Empire - March 23, 2012

Brent does a great job in what ever he does. He is a true Icon in Trek and a good person.

13. rm10019 - March 23, 2012

I like pretending there is an ‘ignore’ button and skipping the often repetitive, winging posts of those who litter this site with self-indulgent drivel.

14. VZX - March 23, 2012

Great actor, it’s a bummer he doesn’t get more work or notice.

15. Frank Jay Gruber - March 23, 2012

Everytime I read an interview with Brent Spiner I imagine him speaking with a droll smirk.

16. bill hiro - March 23, 2012

You know, stick a wig on that guy and spackle on some of that pale makeup and I think I’d still buy him as Data :-)

17. Ahmed Abdo - March 23, 2012

From Blaster:

“J.J. Abrams was so pissed about Trek 2 photo leaks he built a wall”

http://blastr.com/2012/03/abrams-was-so-pissed-abou.php

That might be why there were no updates

18. Red Dead Ryan - March 23, 2012

Clearly, Brent Spiner has learned a lot from William Shatner and doesn’t take himself (too) seriously.

19. Rocket Scientist - March 23, 2012

13. rm10019: LOL! That’s the spirit!

20. I'm Dead Jim! - March 23, 2012

@17 Thanks for the link. I envision legions of paparrazi on pogo sticks trying to get a shot over that wall. Hilarious!

Now back to Brent Spiner.

21. Red Dead Ryan - March 23, 2012

#17.

” “J.J Abrams was so pissed about Trek 2 photo leaks he built a wall” ”

Oh, gee, what a shock! Who could have seen that coming? Oh wait, I did!

NEXT!

22. Chris H. - March 23, 2012

#1:

“Hello?”

“Is this the kettle?”

“Yes, who is this?”

“This is the pot. Know what?”

“What?”

“You’re black.”

23. AJ - March 23, 2012

Guys, when Harry has his own web-series, you can wail on him. This is a Brent Spiner thread.

24. THX-1138 - March 23, 2012

Always have liked Brent Spiner and his portrayal of Data. For the most part he was the most consistent. And FWIW, Data was not the android that died at the end of Nemesis, it was B4. Data did a quick neural net switcharoo on him so that he could be in two places at once. His “dumb B4″ act at the end of the movie was just so he could really exercise his emotion chip’s humor capabilities by shouting “Surprise!” on the bridge two days later.

And BTW, JJ is really wasting his efforts on this whole secrecy thing. Spies are inevitable and you are only throwing down the gauntlet, as it were. An arms race of subterfuge and reconnaissance will follow and end up distracting JJ from his job.

25. Gorn Born - March 23, 2012

@THX-1138: “And BTW, JJ is really wasting his efforts on this whole secrecy thing. Spies are inevitable and you are only throwing down the gauntlet, as it were. An arms race of subterfuge and reconnaissance will follow and end up distracting JJ from his job.”

They seem to be doing a pretty good job of secrecy considering that they are substantially into production (wrapping up filming in May rom what Damon Lindelof said in the video posted here), and we still have no idea who or what the villains are or ANY elements of the plot really. Although I find Abram’s secrecy machine annoying (because like most here I want some non-spoiler idea of what the movie is about), it IS effective.

26. Craptacular - March 23, 2012

1. Funny… you know, your description could also apply to yourself. :D

27. THX-1138 - March 23, 2012

#25 Da’ Gorn

Building the Great Wall of Shipping Containers is a waste of effort. Mental and physical energy was used on it’s inception and realization that might have been better spent on actual film-making.

My point was that spy pics are going to happen if you are filming outdoors or on location. Other directors have accepted or even embraced it to some degree and avoided the distraction. It is my hope that JJ doesn’t allow himself to be caught up in trying to be so secretive that he loses focus on the real prize of making the best Star Trek movie that he can.

28. Daoud - March 23, 2012

JJ should stop worrying… they can fix about anything in post.
.
Brent Spiner is always worth a nickel. The guy made Joe Piscopo go away by being funnier without even trying! He was the only interesting part of Independence Day outside of Smith’s cigar. Ol’ Yellow Eyes isn’t just back, he’s never left! Go Brent!
.
#1. I think you should have waited a post and been #2 instead.

29. Anthony Thompson - March 23, 2012

1. Harry

You’re my man. But…you probably deserve what you’re getting above.

30. Phil - March 23, 2012

@18. I don’t think he’s learned that much from Shatner, BS seems pigeon-holed to play versions of Data or dorky scientists. He seems perfectly content to milk his 15 minutes of ST fame for all it’s worth.

31. Harry Ballz - March 23, 2012

Ah, I see I’ve gotten the attention of the knuckle-draggers. My plan worked! :>)

32. THX-1138 - March 23, 2012

#30

Spiner played Data for 15 years. That is a bit longer than 15 minutes. And if I had just one thing that I could ride (quiet Harry) for the rest of my life and make money off of it I sure would.

33. Romulus - March 23, 2012

@31. Harry Ballz
calling people who disagree with your opinion of Brent Spiner, ” knuckle-draggers” is childish.

34. Red Dead Ryan - March 23, 2012

#30.

Read my post again. I said he learned not to take himself to seriously from Shatner. I didn’t compare their careers, I was referring to their personalities.

BTW, both Shatner and Spiner put out albums. As well as being in “Star Trek” as major characters. So their are comparisons there, but obviously Shatner has a much more varied and extensive career.

35. Red Dead Ryan - March 23, 2012

to=too

their=there

DAMN TYPOS!!!

36. Harry Ballz - March 23, 2012

@33.

Yeah, you’re right, Romulus. It’s giving them too much credit! It implies they can walk upright!

37. DS9 IN PRIME TIME - March 23, 2012

About time for some fresh HELL!!!!!!

IM GUNNA WATCH IT

38. The Original Spock's Brain - March 23, 2012

Brent Spiner is great at whatever he does. And he’s a Houstonian, so you gotta love that!

39. Duffy - March 30, 2012

He was my favorite cast member from STNG. He’s a wonderful actor & I look forward to seeing his new Fresh Hell series. Series I was sooo funny. I hope this series eventually goes on HBO.I know both Brent & Shatner have recorded musical albums – the difference is Brent has a truly beautiful singing voice.

TrekMovie.com is represented by Gorilla Nation. Please contact Gorilla Nation for ad rates, packages and general advertising information.