Star Trek: The Next Generation star Brent Spiner was the headliner for the opening day of STLV, the annual Star Trek Las Vegas Con. The actor closed out Wednesday’s panels on the big stage by talking about returning to the role of Data and joining Sir Patrick Stewart on the upcoming CBS All Access series Star Trek: Picard.
Spiner talks about Data’s story in Star Trek: Picard
Late in his panel appearance when the subject turned to his return in Star Trek: Picard, Brent Spiner wanted to make some things clear… but not too clear:
I am delighted to be part of the show and all I am, is a part of the show…I want to make it semi-clear, because I don’t want to make it too clear, that I am not a regular on the show. Data did die at the end of Nemesis. But I am on the show. I do make appearances. Data’s story is a part of the thread of show.
Spiner’s comments add a bit more clarity, notably that he will make multiple appearances on Star Trek: Picard and that Data’s story is part of the first season. Spiner confirmed that Data is back while also acknowledging that how Data died has fueled a lot of speculation. Due to the secrecy around the show, the nature of Data’s appearance in the show is not entirely clear.
However, Spiner may have inadvertently pointed speculation in the right direction when answering a fan questions about what it was like working with people on the set of Picard:
Up until this point to be honest, I have only worked with Patrick on the set.
Having Data only interact with Jean-Luc Picard would seem to eliminate some possibilities. It is unlikely that a fully resurrected Data (perhaps using B-4’s android body) would not ever appear with any other characters. This lends more weight to the theories that Data’s appearances in Picard are through some kind of holographic simulation, or perhaps memories or flashbacks.
That said, the first season of the show has not completed production. As of two weeks ago at San Diego Comic-Con, the cast revealed there were three episodes left to shoot, out of ten. So, it is possible Data interacts with other characters in the final few episodes.
Impressed with the Picard cast and crew
Before Picard, Spiner had been skeptical about returning to the role of Data. At STLV, he talked a bit about how he has a different view of the character than the audience:
I love Data, of course, I do, I would be a fool not to. Data has been very, very good to me…But as I have often said: love is a very personal thing. My relationship with the character has been very different than the audience’s, because you didn’t have to put on that makeup every day.
When asked specifically why he chose to return to the role, Spiner listed a number of reasons:
I will tell you my biggest reason for coming back: they asked me, and they were very nice about it. There are a couple of more reasons. The pedigree of the writing staff was very difficult to say no to. It was Alex Kurtzman and Akiva Goldsman – who won an Oscar for A Beautiful Mind, and the showrunner Michael Chabon, who is a Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist…And then there is the opportunity to sit across with Patrick again and share that experience with him. Patrick and I are really, really good friends. I did some little stuff with him on Blunt Talk and had a really good time with him…And also you guys [pointing to the audience of fans], because I thought if it got into the wind that they asked me to do it and I said no, you would not be coming to my show on Saturday night.
When talking in general about the show, Spiner gave this assessment of Picard:
The scripts are so good. The writing is so great. They have put together a really great cast. It’s Patrick’s show, it’s Picard’s show…The players they have assembled around him – to an actor – are really terrific. I think you are going to love this cast and love the whole thrust of the show.
Spiner also had a bit of fun and again showed off his spot-on Patrick Stewart impersonation as he talked about how he learned about the title for the series:
I actually had to ask [Patrick] on the set one day I said: “Have they got a title yet?” And he said [adopts Patrick Stewart voice]: “Yes, it’s Star Trek: Picard, quite good, don’t you think?”
Answering a fan question, Spiner said that returning to the mindset of Data came back to him easily:
How long did it take me to get back into the mindset [of Data]? Less than it took me to get into the makeup. It really kind of came back. It really was sort of – with Patrick and I sitting there looking at each other – it really came back quickly.
Nemesis better with age
When discussing the four Star Trek: The Next Generation movies, Spiner said he felt the often-panned last film is worth revisiting:
I really liked [Star Trek Nemesis] I co-wrote the story [with Rick Berman and John Logan]…Tom Hardy (Shinzon) was fantastic. I think there were things that don’t work about it, but in general looking back, it is a more satisfying film than you remember…There was a lot of disappointment because the guy, um [feigns memory lapse] Data, was killed.
But, the actor pointed to another film as the best of the four:
Obviously First Contact was our best film. There is no way around it. Ron [Moore] and Brannon [Braga] wrote a great script. Jonathan [Frakes] really rose to the occasion directing.
Getting ready to start on Penny Dreadful: City of Angels
In addition to his work on Picard, Spiner discussed how he is also working on another TV show:
I’m doing another show [in addition to Picard]…It’s called Penny Dreadful: City of Angels, and I have a part on that show. It is a big ensemble of amazing actors. It’s really good. I have read the first four scripts and they are like “whoa!” This is really good.
Penny Dreadful: City of Angels is a spin-off of the Showtime horror series Penny Dreadful, and both shows were created by Spiner’s friend John Logan, who wrote Star Trek Nemesis. The cast includes Nathan Lane, Natalie Dormer, Daniel Zovatto, Kerry Bishé, Adriana Barraza, Rory Kinnear, Jessica Garza, Johnathan Nieves, Amy Madigan, and Lin Shaye. Star Trek: Discovery’s Ethan Peck (Spock) has also signed on to guest star in multiple episodes. Spiner said he starts work on the new show in late August.
More STLV to come
The TrekMovie team is in Las Vegas to bring you all the news, so check back for more updates here on the site as well as some live coverage via @TrekMovie on Twitter and Instagram.