Brent Spiner Talks Typcasting, Death Of Data & Bringing Back Soong For Star Trek Sequel

On Monday Star Trek: The Next Generation’s Brent Spiner participated in a online live webchat promoting his webseries Fresh Hell. The chat ended up with a lot of talk about Star Trek and Data. Spiner talked about Trek typecasting, the death of Data, and even lobbied to "Bring Back Soong" for the 2012 Star Trek sequel. Details below, plus the full video.


Brent Spiner on typecasting, rebooting Data, & "Bring Back Soong"

Brent Spiner on if he feels "pigeonholed" by his Star Trek: The Next Generation role of Data:

No. Before I got offered the show, I was afraid of that. I was afraid I would never work again. I sais that to a friend of mine, Danny Stern, saying "I don’t know if I should take this job, I don’t know if I will ever work again." And he said "You know what? You will work even more" and he couldn’t have been more wrong [laughs]. No, I don’t think it has pigeonholed me necessarily. I have done other work – I’ve done other films and television and theater since I did Data, but I did 178 episodes and 4 feature films and they are still on air. They will be on for the rest of our lives – if Paramount Pictures has anything to do with it. And it is what it is. I’ll always be known for having done that character and I don’t mind that at all. I have great affection for that character. Maybe not the same affection you have. You love the character and I love the character, but love is a very complicated thing and very individual thing. For you, you spent an hour in front of the television set watching it and I sent 500 hours doing it for every hour you watched. No that many actually but many more. It was a much more complicated thing for me.

A question came in asking Spiner what actor he thought might be a good choice if they ever rebooted Star Trek: The Next Generation (ala Star Trek 2009). Spiner noted that some  have pointed out how Tom Hiddleston (Loki in Thor) looks a bit like him. He also joked about Justin Beiber and the late Charles Nelson Reilly. But then Spiner offered this bit of lobbying about the next Star Trek:

I am thinking more about the next Star Trek movie and more about who can I be in it. I did this character Arik Soong [on Star Trek Enterprise], not to be confused with Dr. Soong on the [TNG], this was his predecessor. And I would like to start a campaign, maybe right here tonight, its called BBS – Bring Back Soong.  And I want you to flood JJ Abrams offices with that: BBS, Bring Back Soong.

Brent Spiner as Arik Soong on "Star Trek: Enterprise (2005) – Will JJ Abrams Bring Back Soong?

Spiner also was asked about the death of Data in Star Trek: Nemesis. He noted that he was not on set when they filmed the emotional farewell/memorial scene, but he did offer this:

A lot of people have asked about [Star Trek: Nemesis] and "why did you kill Data?" We knew that it was going to be our last film, and we thought it might be a good idea to end it on a big emotional moment and it seemed to complete Data’s arc from the beginning. What you don’t know is that when the curtains closed in the theater and you left, the Enterprise blew up and everyone else was killed [laughs].

And when Spiner was asked if he thought Data could come back he said:

I don’t think that could happen. Look at me. I am a shockingly older gentleman. I don’t see that I could wear that makeup anymore. I think that would look really stupid. I love the character and I wish I started it much younger, but I was already in my mid sixties when I started [joke]. I just don’t think I could get away with it. Yeah they could CGI it, but why not just CGI the whole character and forget about me.

In other Trek related content on the chat, Spiner said that he is talking to at least one of his Next Generation co-stars about a cameo on his webseires Fresh Hell. Spiner also said he would "be delighted" to follow Wil Wheaton to the CBS comedy The Big Bang Theory, but noted he has yet to be asked to appear. Spiner also did impersonations of Michael Dorn and Patrick Stewart.

Brent Spiner as Data – saving Picard (Patrick Stewart) shortly before sacrificing himself in "Star Trek: Nemesis" (2002)

Watch the full replay (1 hour and 11 minutes – via Streamin’ Garage):

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Oh I so want data to return I really loved him in the series and feature films I’m supporting a campaign on Facebook called Star Trek: Titan Tv Series it would be great if their successful and Brent Spiner got on board.

I love Brent Spiner and Data etc. but I think the Sequel should focus on the new crew.

Arik Soong would be pretty old by the time of Star Trek 2012. Then again – the later Dr. Soong did live well into his hundreds so who knows.

Soong for the sequel?? NO FRIGGIN’ WAY!

Spiner took up way too much screen time in the TNG movies. Now he’s trying to “muscle in” on the new franchise? Tell him to take a hike!

Well, he could get himself frozen, ala Khan…

No more appearances from other Star Trek actors in the new series. Nimoy can get a cameo for an update on the repopulation of the Vulcan race, but NO MORE. The reboot needs to stand on it’s own. I’ve been a Trekkie since I was a kid and each series was unique by standing on it’s own. The moment there was a crossover, it became the other series (things seemed to play out like a holodeck episode when Barkley got involved in Voyager).

Great character. Talented actor. But no cameo. Time for the new guns. However, TNG, for me, was the best Trek series: it was a real shame they stopped the series to make those poor films that came nowhere near the quality of the TOS ones.

I would rather see him play an entirely different character and leave Data, B4, Lore, and Soong in the past.

Hell, he could have played a alien and we would never know it.

It’s a shame Paramount isn’t willing to get off it’s ass and make a new animated series.

Something featuring a revived Data (and other select TNG or DS9 characters) would probably be a HUGE freakin hit.

…Eh. No Soong please.

But Tom Hiddleston in ST? Yes please. And then bring back Chris Hemsworth and we can make it a big Thor reunion party. -_-

Anyways, when I think of his “BBS” for “Bring Back Soong” I think of a video game with the same initials.

I thought he was brilliant in Enterprise “Borderland”, “Cold Station 12” & “The Augments”. Playing an amoral scientist allowed Brent Spiner to flex acting muscles he was never allowed to during Next Gen, due to how the character of Data was. Truly awesome.

Dr. Lucas: “You son of a bitch.”
Soong: “Actually Mother was a chemist.”

I have to admit he’s not on any wish list I have for Star Trek (2012). In a way it’s a shame there’s no series, because it would’ve been great if Arik Soong had returned… on Enterprise Season 5, or it’s successor.

Hmmm. There’s no apostrophe in that use of “its”. Another boo-boo. Call myself English?

Well … nah!!!… :-) :-)

Brent’s comment about bringing back Soong is actually kind of scary awesome for me. My first screenplay I attempted (practice and the only fanfic I have ever written) had a Soong relation–not Arik, Data or Lore–story line.

I think Brent Spiner would be brilliant to play Sheldon’s late father, and if you’re familiar with how they set-up that character, it would work great: you’d have that instant recognition of Data (and who else but Data could have Sheldon as a son?) but he would be playing totally against type, so that would be fun to see!

I dunno about Soong in the sequels, maybe if he had a brief cameo, a group of scientists dissecting an alien robot (heck, throw him into the TOS comic book in the “What Are Little Girls Made Of?” episode reboot!)

Always enjoy Spiners’ work on Trek,whatever role he’s playing. Someone that talented should have plenty of work,but I fear casting directors look on Spiner just as that Trek guy.Show biz is a bitch;it’s the only business where an actor is penalized for doing a good job.

Decloaking . . .
JJ’s Star Wars Trek created its own separate parallel universe, so let them create their own separate characters.

Leave the Prime universe and its characters alone.
Recloaking. }:-D>

Imagine if the explosion that destroyed Shinzon’s Remon warship didn’t actually destroy it but caused somesort of tacion or temporal rift to occur by which Data was hurdled to the alternate Star Trek timeline from the JJ Abrams ST09 movie and he was salvaged by Kirk and crew and possible even joined the Enterprise crew – I know sounds crazy but hey this new universe is not bound by the roles of the original TOS – so why not Data? As a Star Trek fan for over 20 years I have to say that TNG was one of the best and DS9 and VOY were really great to. As for ENT – seasons 3 and 4 were really great – It might be nice to see the Xindi, Khan, Data, Klingons (Kang, Kor, and Koloth) and an old Admiral Archer (Scott Bakula) (perhaps in flashback seen with a young Christopher Pike) or a scene with an old T’Pol as one of the survivors of Vulcan along with the parents of Tuvok from Voyager!

If it was so awesome my head would burst into flames just hearing it, I would say go ahead, do it.

To say he could be Data because he is too old for the role, it was mentioned on several occasions that Data had a program to age himself as a normal human (this is even mentioned in the Memory Alpha Wiki entry on Data). It could be done, but will it be done? Mr. Spiner seems happy to let that role stay as part of his past resume.

It would not be unlike the Worf ancestor in ST VI, which played out well. Could be somebody in Starfleet sciences who takes the opposite view of the course of action Spock wants to take. A Quinto / Spiner smackdown argument could be fun. Especially if played something like Arik or his Independence Day – obsessed and opinionated.

If new Data is CGI’d as Spiner suggests, the “uncanny valley” factor of the animation could actually work in the character’s favor!

Please, let’s have NO previous Trek series actors in the next film. Please. We’ve got to let go and move on. I grew up watching all the shows from the time they first aired. I’m more than ready for the new guys. I like them. It’s a good cast. Do two more movies with them then let’s have a new Trek series on television. Obviously, the movie crew wouldn’t do it, but we’d have the sets and costumes and props, so let’s just use that stuff and do a new series. Come on, Star Trek belongs on TV.

J.J. could produce it and Orci and co. could write some of the shows. As long as Rick Berman is given a restraining order keeping him one hundred yards from the sound stage at all times.

#3 and 4 you realize he was joking right, he wasnt being serious about having Aric soong in the next movie. geesh you can tell by the way he even says it.

I love Brent Spiner and I LOVED Data. Brent Spiner is an awesome actor and I wish he were in more shows and movies. His comments just reinforce that.

He may or may not have been joking, but I for one wouldn’t mind seeing him in the next movie.

#4 we find common ground on this one, Harry!
I suspect Spiner was talking tongue in cheek. I certainly hope so!

May as well offer my own thoughts on having previous actors in Trek 2012..

Don’t do it. That goes for Spiner, Shatner, Nimoy, everyone. I’m more interested in how the ‘new’ crew is going to stand out, to make themselves memorable. If they spend their entire film series shackled to previous Trek actors, their films will be forgotten rather quickly.

^22. Indeed, if Data was CG and Spiner would perform voice, motion, and facial capture, it could be more convincingly not-quite-human than a guy painted gold. It wouldn’t be the same, though, and it might not even be Star Trek in the sense that actors playing in makeup to represent an one archetype or another is what Star Trek has always been.

Wait a second. You all are forgetting that Data becomes the captain of the Enterprise. At least in the prequel comic book series.

He could be a singer in a bar.

He has a great voice, so why not? :P

people he was very obviously joking, the whole discussion on it,not to mention quite a bit of the video is spiner being spiner. very funny and tounge firmly planted in cheek.

Data was a good character but not in the movies unfortunately. There was no emotional resonance when he died in Nemesis, the shocking B-4 sub plot saw to that.

Trekkies are still bitter over Kirks lame death, no one really gives a toss about Data;s death. That is a shame really but TNG movies really led to that could not care less point.

I am grateful for the character in the show though.

Brent Spiner is one of my fav actors and Data is one of my all time favourite characters.

He should be on TV more often than he is.

Re: Harry Ballz – June 29, 2011
“Soong for the sequel?? NO FRIGGIN’ WAY!

Spiner took up way too much screen time in the TNG movies. Now he’s trying to “muscle in” on the new franchise? Tell him to take a hike!”


The TNG era (and anything influenced by it in the following series) need a permanent vacation from any ST produced in the future, including this new series, and any possible reboots of this new series.

How about some voicework for Captain Data in Star Trek Online?? He would be great as Captain of the upcoming Enterprise-F! =)

You know, I don’t buy the revisionism going on with “We knew Nemesis was going to be our last film”. BS. If Nemesis had made $200 million at the box office Paramount would have trotted out another TNG film faster than you could say Michael Bay. And you know what? The Nemesis follow up would have had a big storyline about Data remembering who he was, or rather, Data’s memory or KATRA reasserting itself in that stupid shell that was B4.
Sorry Brent, I don’t buy it.


i thought the idea was to do Star Trek XI as a crossover TOS/TNG/DS9/VOY/ENT epic like Bring Back or maybe IDWs The Last Generation (which would have made a great final movie for TNG instead of or after Nemesis)

As a fellow Houstonian, of course he should be in the next Trek!

Horatio, you are right. If they had planned on Data’s death being permanent they would not have brought in B4. That was a bit of backside-covering which ended up being unnecessary.

I don’t want to see TNG or TOS actors or characters muscling in, as Harry Ballz says, but wouldn’t mind a little cameo from someone, like John Winston as Commander Kyle in TWOK.

Good God no…. No Data….. No Soong…. NO Next Gen references of any sort. PLEASE!!!!

Um, thanks for the memories, but that ship has warped.

I think the producers/writers should just pretend, that TNG, DS9, VOY and ENT never existed. Base your new movies only on TOS and TAS. Forget actors/characters of the other series. Don’t include alien races, we only know from one of the newer Star Trek series (like the Borg, Xindi, Ferengi,…). Use alien races we already know from TOS/TAS or create new alien races. In short please completely ignore the canon of the four newer Star Trek series.

“The Wrath of Soong”?

I’d rather see a Soong than Harry Mudd!

I always thought the way to bring back data would be to make it a Q story. Have Geordi detect intruder alert and find a very confused and fully human (and aged to Brent’s natural appearance) Data. And then leave him human… so he ages like the rest of us. Pinocchio finally becomes a real boy.

if, no trek XI, had ever been made, then it could had been great seeing tng and co. , in a series after NEM, set 20 years after NEM , with an older tng crew and even some from ds9 and voy , but again……..That would have been trek for US (Not US) , US fans and not the whole world, because before XI , only fans knew what really went on in trek, now its become much broader, more international again…….hopefully it continue that way…………

wow you guys honestly cant tell that his comment is really tounge in cheek, i mean its planted soooo very deep in his cheek.

none of you really know spiner or his sense of humor do you (inspite of watching him at cons or reading his twitter feed)
He is not seriously trying to be in trek XII


You mean like the TNG movies were huge, freakin hits?


Agreed. He was NOT being serious.

I know, some people only would like to see TOS on the screen. But there are a lot TNG fans who would love to see Brent Spiner in Star Trek again. Brent Spiner is the only actor in Star Trek who could play many characters in one series. He was able to play a whole generation. I think that he’s really a highly gifted actor. Did you see him in “Introducing Dorothy Dandridge”? He’s really great. I fight already for more than 3 years meanwhile that he plays in Star Trek again. William Shatner has 640.000 followers on Twitter. Brent Spiner has almost 1.4 million followers on Twitter. It think that rather speaks for Brent Spiner.

About TOS: Kirk died in Star Trek 6. And he died in Star Trek 7. Then he started to live in Star Trek 11 again? My question again: How often can a Captain Kirk die? I want Brent Spiner back. If possible, the whole TNG crew. Thanks to Adobe After Effects it also should be possible to bring Data back. Or does someone tell me, that there were tons of make-up in the faces of the actors of the movie Avatar?

Best greetings from Germany! We want Brent Spiner back!