Brent Spiner Talks ‘Star Trek: Picard’ Roles And Why He’s Still Okay With Data Dying In ‘Nemesis’

Brent Spiner hasn’t been a big part of the publicity tour for Star Trek: Picard season 3, even though he, too, is returning to the series as the character Lore, twin brother of his original Star Trek: The Next Generation character Data, who died in the 2002 film Star Trek Nemesis (and died again in the first season of Picard). However, Spiner did talk to the New York Times (in a conversation with his other TNG castmates) that ended up returning to the subject Nemesis.

Spiner happy with Data’s death in Nemesis

In the New York Times profile, Brent Spiner was asked if he had any regrets about Nemesis, in the context of the new season of Picard:

Brent, there’s a running joke among fans about how every time there’s a new “Star Trek” story, there’s a new character for you to play. [Data has multiple clones and human quasi-ancestors.] Is there a part of you that wishes your original version of Data, who died in “Nemesis,” could be part of this rendition?

SPINER I don’t think so, because then I couldn’t have played those other things. You know, I was perfectly happy with the ending of “Nemesis,” even though I know that a lot of fans weren’t. And then I feel that was sort of redeemed, in a way, for the fans in the first season of “Picard.” I would hate to have missed both those moments.

So no, I’m perfectly happy with the way it’s gone. I can’t say much more. I haven’t really seen much of the show — they’ve kept it away from me because they know I’ll blow it.

New York Times interviewer Sopan Deb followed up by asking Patrick Stewart about Nemesis, and the Picard star ended up turning the question back to Spiner.

Patrick, did you think you were saying goodbye to Jean-Luc after “Nemesis?”

STEWART Oh, yes, but with disappointment.

[To Spiner:] Brent, there had been a lot of conversation about you and John Logan [who co-wrote “Nemesis”] writing a new film script, and that appealed to me enormously. But of course that was dumped along with everything else. And I felt frustration and disappointment about that because what we went out with wasn’t good, I don’t think.

SPINER There are things about “Nemesis” that didn’t work. I think we went into it with the feeling that it was probably going to be our last film, which was why we let Data’s demise happen. We thought a great dramatic conclusion to one of the characters would be a fitting end to the series.

Data says goodbye to Picard in Star Trek: Nemesis

TNG cast on Picard season 3 as a do-over for Nemesis

Picard showrunner Terry Matalas has stated that he felt Star Trek: Nemesis did not provide the TNG crew with a proper ending to their stories, something he is trying to rectify with season 3 of Picard. In the NYT profile, TNG actors LeVar Burton, Jonathan Frakes, Gates McFadden and Michael Dorn talked about how they also saw Nemesis as a missed opportunity:

BURTON I always felt it was a missed opportunity to create a story and play a storyline that had a fitting and proper conclusion to it. None of us knew that was going to be our last outing. So there was always, at least for me, a sense of a missed opportunity, something unfulfilled.

FRAKES Which is what season 3 of “Picard” has been, which we didn’t dare hope for.

BURTON That ship had sailed. Two decades have passed. I had long since given up on any hope of a conclusion as satisfying as this one is.

McFADDEN I had given up hope. I felt that my character in the movies was practically nonexistent; it was just bizarre. In this one, I felt more like the way I felt in “All Good Things” [the series finale]. “All Good Things” was a brilliant end. We all had great story lines, and in this, I think, the same thing is true. You feel the past — I felt my past connection with each of these characters, and that was something I didn’t feel in the films. Then I felt like I was just filling a role of, “Well, we have to have Crusher in here because she’s part of the cast.” There wasn’t really a sense that I had a through-line or real character intention. So this was unexpected, and I’m very happy with it. I think it’s an incredible season.

DORN I didn’t have any idea that [“Nemesis”] was going to be the last one. I thought that there was going to be another shot at some point. After 10 years go by, you go, “I don’t know if it’s going to come back.”

The cast of Star Trek: Nemesis

Spiner’s Lore in season 3 is “complicated”

Spiner’s role in season three of Picard was originally described by showrunner Terry Matalas and executive producer Alex Kurtzman as a “new old” character. When it was revealed what character he would be playing at New York Comic Con last October, Spiner said he was playing Lore but “in a very complicated way.”

Brent Spiner in publicity photo for Picard season 3

The third and final season of Picard premiered on Thursday, Feb. 16, 2023, exclusively on Paramount+ in the U.S., and Latin America, and on February 17 Paramount+ in Europe and elsewhere, with new episodes of the 10-episode-long season available to stream weekly. It also debuted on Friday, Feb. 17 internationally on Amazon Prime Video in more than 200 countries and territories. In Canada, it airs on Bell Media’s CTV Sci-Fi Channel and streams on Crave.

Keep up with news about the Star Trek Universe at

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Part of me was relieved when Star Trek: Picard was happening as a series. At long last, the original Star Trek timeline isn’t going to end on a joyless, ugly-looking excuse to make an action movie out of Star Trek that left a bad taste in everyone’s mouth. Just one good episode of Picard and it would have all been worth it. Just one good episode to leave Nemesis behind.

I hope Season 3 finally does it.

Left a bad taste in “everyone’s” mouth. Speak for yourself.

There are plenty of us who actually quite like Nemesis. Just cause you don’t like it doesn’t mean “Everyone” agrees with you.

You don’t like it that is fine and all, but don’t discount those fans who actually enjoyed it for what it was/is.

37 fans?

Is that counting everybody who went to the cinema opening weekend? Cuz it got beat by MAID IN MANHATTAN and a Jessica Alba movie too as I recall. Must have been the only Trek feature that didn’t open at #1, probably close to the only one that didn’t set an opening weekend record, which I’m pretty sure the first few all did.

It’s not that I think NEMESIS is unwatchable (I can watch any of the first 10 and get something out of it, even tho 1, 2 & 5 are the only ones I flat-out like, warts&all); but man, so little in NEM works, or works as intended. Would call it a missed opportunity, but there wasn’t really any opportunity to miss given the fatal miscasting of Baird as director.

Also, if you do any search that rates all of the Trek films, the three movies that always wind up at the bottom on these lists, in various order, are Nemesis, STID and TFF.

That doesn’t make these lists correct, but it does validate the general consensus on how these films are perceived.

I liked Nemesis. The battle between the Enterprise and the Scimitar was great. It certainly wasn’t perfect. The light being reflected on Troi’s eyes while she guides Worf’s hand to find the cloaked Scimitar, and the teeny tiny personal transporter were a couple things that made me roll my eyes a bit. Other than those two examples, I quite enjoyed it.

Remember me?!!!!!??

Enjoyed it for what it is….

  • A Patrick Stewart indulging fest?
  • A bone thrown at a movie editing doctor who didn’t care about Star Trek?
  • A goofy villain story that wore out its popularity when Austin Powers did it?
  • The blatant disregard of essential moments in Picard’s life that would have been useful in his conversations with Shinzon?
  • The 3-way mind rape of Troi?
  • The GNDN Dune Buggy chase?
  • A critical and commercial failure that crippled the franchise for years?

And that last bit is not an understatement. Even though Star Trek V was a critical and financial failure, it didn’t grind the franchise to a halt. Enterprise was canceled shortly after and it wasn’t until the 2009 reboot years later that Star Trek was even considered a thing again.

The only people who seem to care about Nemesis are Patrick Stewart and Brent Spiner, the only two people who the film was tailor-made for.

I think the last bit of the film was good, the Scimitar vs Enterprise battle, Data’s death. The Enterprise being worked on in spacedock. But of course those are all lifted from TOS films. Enterprise in Spacedock from TMP, Scimitar battle reminiscent of the duel between the Enterprise and Reliant, Data’s death ripped off of Spock’s. The entire tone of the film lifted from Wrath of Khan and Undiscovered Country.

well I hated it – and I’ve been a trek fan for over 40 years.

The fact that none of them knew Nemesis was going to be the last movie is very telling, because it was heavily marketed with the tagline “A Generation’s Final Journey.”

What that tells me is that the studio knew it was going to be a huge dud, effectively killing hopes for a sequel, and hoped that maybe by billing it as a goodbye they could sell a few more tickets and salvage the thing.

I seem to recall some of the TNG cast saying they had expected an eighth season, as they were contracted for it. Could be wrong on that, and I can’t remember where I heard/read it. But if that’s the case, it could make sense for some cast members to assume there would be a fifth film.

But yeah, you bring up the tagline for Nemesis, and it seems like perhaps the studio was ready to move on.

Yeah, and even more than that, it’s as if the studio saw a rough cut of the film and knew they had a bomb on their hands. This brings me to a gut feeling I have about Picard S3. I get this feeling that Matalas wanted to call this season something other than “Star Trek: Picard” because it was something so different, but the studio wanted the marketing angle of “The Final Season.”

They did have a contract through season 8. I think it was mistake not to do that eighth year.

I agree. Out of the four TNG films, the only one I really love is First Contact. They could have done an eighth season and then made that film.

First Contact set on the Enterprise-D would have been interesting and different.

They would have had to grapple with the Borg starting to assimilate a ship with large numbers of civilians, including children, aboard.

I think that could have been a good film but perhaps difficult to make for the same mass market (i.e. PG-13/12A).

They actually didn’t know that it wasn’t going to do well. The fact that they released it as counter programming to The Two Towers speaks to their confidence in the film. It was never going to open number 1 at the box office opposite of LOTR, and they knew that, but still figured it would do well as counter programing.

What they didn’t count on was a . J-Lo movie and gangs of New York in limited release making more money than forcast, and taking away the rest of their audience.

That’s gonna be the dumbest counter programming strategy ever. You typically want to counter program with a different genre film, not a film that’s in the same general Science Fiction and Fantasy genre like The Two Towers was.

Yeah, I find it hard to believe that the release date implies they had faith in it. Maybe they had faith in it, idk, but the release date suggests to me they just wanted to kill it.

At about the same time they had faith of the heart

Was pretty sure NEM came out the week before the Tolkien.

It was “A Generation’s Final Journey Begins”. Perhaps they were expecting to end with a multi-movie story arc. I remember that tag line on the movie poster made me think that maybe that would be the case.

“Begins” does not imply anything of the sort. I can’t imagine anyone was thinking of a multi-movie arc, unless someone from the production actually said that. The movie did not end on a tease for a future film that would continue the story (unlike say, STII), and while a follow-up could have been possible, i’ve never heard of anyone having plans for one while NEM was in production.

In the years since we’ve heard several people talk about possible ideas for a sequel that had nothing to do with NEM: a possible crossover film with DS9/VOY, for example, which pretty much negates the notion that NEM was intended as a “Part One.”

They had identified that there was a sequel story planned during the original press junkets that would’ve been released in 2004.

I also recall that there were some attempts to write various Trek films before the 2009 Abrams film.

Both of you, please re-read my comment. I am not suggesting that there were no ideas for sequels. I even said that there were. But the idea that they planned Nemesis to be PART ONE of a multi-movie series is not something i’m ready to believe for a nanosecond unless there’s concrete proof.

Even a quote from Braga wouldn’t convince me, frankly, that dude is famous for rewriting the past.

Well for me it implied it at the time. Also B4 showing a glimmer of Data’s memories emerging at the end while the Enterprise was being rebuilt in space dock also made me think it was a possibility that they could be back. Of course, that never ended up being the case. While not a huge tease, it was enough of one to leave the door open to a possible return. At least for Spiner to play Data again.

That seemed less like a tease for a sequel as a “well here’s our out in case we want to ever bring him back.”

I have no doubt many people WANTED to make a sequel: the writers, the cast, even the producers like Berman, Piller, Braga, etc.

But the studio, not so much, particularly how badly insurrection did, and how poorly Enterprise was doing on TV at the same time (it was in the middle of Season 3 and cancelation rumors were already swirling) I think they were very prepared for this to be the last one, and developed the marketing campaign around that notion, hoping to sell it as “the last time you’ll ever see these characters.”

Sorry, meant Season 2

B4 was supposed to be a way to bring back Data like the remember scene in Star Trek II. Brent Spiner even had a story. Of course Nemesis tanked. And that is all she wrote.

It’s: “A generations final journey BEGINS” – so this could mean “Nemesis” was the beginning of the final journey in case they would had done another film..

I never read “Begins” as a tease, but I suppose it’s possible it was to hedge their bets if they did well. But between the tagline and the way it was generally promoted, the clear message being sent was “this is the last time we’ll ever see this cast.”

Studio gave away big surprise in ‘search/spock’ as well.
But I doubt they thought it was a lemon and hoped it would do well

No studio hopes their movie bombs. But I just can’t imagine many people watching the first cut of Nemesis and thinking “yeah, this is going to be a huge hit after the disappointment of Insurrection and opening a week before the sequel to Lord of the Rings.”

By 2002, Trek was no longer popular at all, not like it was when TNG was in its prime. It was very much the goofy nerd property, Insurrection had been a huge letdown after the success of First Contact. It had been four years since that movie and the industry had moved on from this kind of thing, audiences didn’t care about this cast anymore (or Trek in general).

I just find it incredibly hard to believe that the studio was banking on a big hit and had plans for a series of follow-ups.

Much more likely that they knew this would be the last one: the industry was moving more towards blockbusters, they probably saw the film wasn’t very good, and developed a marketing strategy around “the final journey” the same way they had with Undiscovered Country (and before anyone says ST6 wasn’t billed that way, go watch the original teaser trailer where Christopher Plummer invites you to “one last adventure”).

That tagline might well have come some time after production though.

Yes, that’s exactly my point. The fact that “last adventure” implication was not something communicated to the cast, but was a heavy part of the marketing AFTER production, tells me they didn’t have a lot of faith in the movie.

If they’d gone into production telling the cast “hey everyone, enjoy this, it’s your last movie” then it’s a different story.

About Lore here in Season 3:

He could be using the Body of this Backup Data, but somehow the Head has malfunction or someone has the idea to “reset” or “clear” Lore’s Mind and Download that OS Roots of this Data and hopping for the best to haven an Data “backup Clone”. But this clearing of Lore did not goes as planed (Per Aspera Game AI). He could be all 3 at once and none. Somehow Lore has now different personalities where some Subroutines has the Higher Control (aka Subconsciousness) what one of them is dominant

or we have some “Bladerunner” moment where the Android save the Human on his dying moment

But yes, this is again guts feeling aka speculation. Time will tell, when Lore make his appearance

I’m sure there’s another reason, but perhaps Spiner’s comments in the article tell us why he’s not participating in any of the press events?

Of course he’s OK with Data dying in Nemesis, because the Dr Soong/alternate Data wannabe family is the paycheck that keeps getting cut no matter how much the fans groan…lol

I’m not sure if it’s that.

Spiner seems to think that his popularity in TNG was principally about him as the actor inhabiting the character Data. No matter how skilled Spiner is at his craft, that wasn’t what attached the audience.

He and others seem not to understand how appealing Data was as a character. Data’s innocence, his curiosity, his drive to become human, his friendship with Geordi, were among his key appeals.

No character that Spiner will play will replace that.

Of all the creative choices in season one of Picard, I actually found the scene with Data insisting on the termination of his program, a true death, to be the most true to the Data of TNG. So, I was happy to have had that. Otherwise, to me Spiner is just another guest actor.

Well, yeah, of course it’s that too — good point.

It’s interesting seeing Patrick and Brent speak about Nemesis 2 decades later. Both of those actors not only supported, but were enthusiastic about the script that was written by John Logan. The elephant in the room for me has always been Stuart Baird as director. Levar has gone on record saying that his experience working with him was…poor. I didn’t care for the movie at all, but one of the worst things about the film is that it is flat out left me feeling quite depressed at the end. Raise a champagne toast to Data, and lets all move on to other jobs. I think the entire cast (and us fans) deserved far better.

I found out just very recently no one making the movie even wanted Sturat Baird as director. It was Paramount who forced him to direct it because his editing on Tomb Raider supposedly helped saved that movie and he was given that movie to make as a thank you. That tells you everything right there, he only got the job as a favor and it showed. He didn’t care about Star Trek at all and unlike directors like Meyer, didn’t try to understand it either.

I will say though there was a lot of cut footage I thought would’ve made the movie a little better because they were more character based. But those were cut out because Paramount wanted to keep the movie under two hours and, of course, wanted to keep it more action focus so those were gone too.

His direction is so flat and leaden that stuff like the picad/data deleted blab scene just lies there, and for me is best off gone from the movie. There have certainly been good editors turned directors, but Baird ain’t one of them – zero for three even though Goldsmith scored all of his films, and if JG can’t salvage your movie with a hardworking score, then you don’t deserve to employ him.

I’m not all that big on Baird as an editor either; he cut two of the Bond films I most despise and I’m not a big Richard Donner fan either, who was Baird’s most frequent collaborator. SUPERMAN and OUTLAND were handled well, and I think DIE HARD 2 and THE LAST BOY SCOUT are mostly well-edited, but I think LADYHAWKE was off, and the LW series of movies are kind of take-it-or-leave-it for me.

Superman was well edited. The Extended Salkind cut is leaden. I watched it as a fan because i grew up with the TV cut but its not good.

I mean it is obvious that Baird was a horrible director as we can see with the fact that he didn’t direct anything else after Nemesis. I also didn’t like his work on Executive Decision as well as he seemed to be cutting away at the most suspenseful moments of the film and losing all the tension as a result. He did some solid editing work in his career but not all editors should go on to direct things.

It occurred to me that when Data died at the end of Picard it also meant that Lal died with him since he had downloaded her into his positronic brain.

They should have downloaded her into her own body beforehand, no?

It would have been good if she had had a cameo in the final episode.

I believe Nemesis did poorly because the movie before it wasn’t so hot. I remember several friends say they just weren’t very motivated to go see the next movie because Insurrection killed their enthusiasm for the franchise.

Insurrection has been criticized for being a feature-length episode, but it was a pretty good story. Nemesis was just a poorly constructed story.

I literally couldn’t find anyone who wanted to go see Nemesis. It could have been a masterpiece, but it would not have mattered. The opening night and weekend box office numbers prove it, because many fans stayed away.

I remember sitting in the theater opening night and wondering, “Where is everybody?” Because every other Star Trek opening night my entire life was an excited and packed house.

Sorry about your experience. I’m not saying you’re wrong, I just didn’t find Insurrection to be a bad movie. Would it have worked better as a big two-part episode? Yes, it would have, but the story was better than what they came up with for Nemesis.

Those of us old enough to remember were amazed how few general viewers went to TWOK (after the big opening weekend.) We finally decided that those folks didn’t come back till TVH, having caught up on TWOK and TSFS via home vhs views and being gunshy after TMP’s relative lethargy.

It took a lot of arm-twisting to get my parents to go see TWOK, about a month into its release, and my stepdad was utterly blown away (except for Kirk not raising the shields, the same idiot thing that set my teeth on edge then & now), though he felt the ‘i don’t believe in the no win scenario’ line of thought was potentially dangerous for fan types to buy into wholeheartedly.

I always enjoyed “Nemesis” much (except Data’s death) and looking so much forward to finally get it on 4K disc!!!! HOPEFULLY WITH DOLBY ATMOS!!!!

I think you can only play the ‘noble death’ thing once in a ST film so data dying was always going to fall flat compared to what happened in ‘khan’

Before Picard season 3 started I did a mini TNG rewatch starting with Encounter at Farpoint and then watching select episodes that focused on each character and Nemesis was the last thing I watched for obvious reasons. To this day it’s still my least favorite film in the franchise although I will say it has improved for me over the years but still pretty bad. I will say it started off great. I really enjoyed it up until they met Shinzon and it started to get worse after that. And yes, the ridiculous dune buggy scene.

I still have many problems with it. I could obviously watch it. I probably seen it about 10 times now over the years but outside a few key moments it just doesn’t do it for me. And yes I didn’t like how Data died either. I didn’t mind that he died just like I didn’t mind that Kirk was killed in Generations, it was how they died that left a bad taste in mine and other people’s mouths.

I still remember how excited I was for the movie. I was probably as excited for it as I was First Contact. I even cut a vacation in Malaysia a few days short so I can be back in L.A. and see it at the Mann Chinese theater opening weekend with my best friend who became a huge Trek fan during high school.. After watching it, I really wished I was back in Malaysia lol.

I too didn’t mind the death of Kirk or Data in theory. It’s that they felt so perfunctory, like they felt for the movie to work they had to kill them off. Particularly Nemesis, the screenwriter was so adamant about recreating TWOK, and well, Spock dies at the end so we should kill off TNG’s resident emotionless character, right?

Except that Picard and Data, while close, were never the best friends that Kirk and Spock were. You can’t just recreate an iconic movie by copying and pasting some plot beats.

That said, i’ve long viewed Generations, Insurrection, and Nemesis as if they were any other mediocre episode. I rewatch them on occasion, but don’t love them.

I’m currently binging ST:TOS right now and am really enjoying it, campiness and all. The OG crew really has fantastic chemistry and I enjoy the characters. The trinity Kirk/Spock/Bones are magic together.

My favorite episodes are City on the Edge of Forever followed closely by Errand of Mercy and Balance of Terror.

Wait a second – Data dies in Nemesis?! I’m only on ST4: The Voyage Home. The whales come back, right?

They take over the Earth in ST5. And Kirk asks: What does a whale need with a starship? Magnificent movie.

Spiner was interested in killing off Data as far back as First Contact and Insurrection. In fact a pod I listened to recently said that Spiner only came back for Insurrection with the agreement that Data would be killed of, only to have everyone’s “buddy” Rick Berman say “we’ll do it next time” once filming started.

it could have been TNG’s TUC, especially with them finally making peace with an old foe just as the previous film broke bread with the klingons but it was not to be…

At the time I thought that if anything Picard dying in Nemesis would have made more sense with Riker then staying on and taking over the Enterprise rather than the Titan. Data’s storyline was perhaps the worst to wind up, given it had the potential to go on for centuries (though admittedly there is a practical issue with the actor aging out of the role).

Lucky though that they didn’t go that route or we might not have had a sequel series.

They built in the fact that Brent was going to age as far back as TNG Season 7. In the episode with his “mother” (Inheretence, S7X10) its mentioned that she has an aging program like Lore and Data, so the fact that Data was going to visibly age was already set.

Brent simply wanted to be done playing Data and (frankly) having that be the character he will only be known for. The “Data won’t age” trope is frankly a cop out given that TNG already established he would progressively look older.

My wild theory on Spiner’s character. Anton Soong was dieing and transferred himself to a matching android body . Would explain why he looks old. He also transferred the memories and personalities of others to within himself -including Lore.. Those traits were meant to only be stored but something went wrong and he instead has the android version of multiple personalities

For the record, Nemesis was always going to be a train wreck because of the infighting between Stewart and Spiner for the spotlight. After First Contact, the films become completely lopsided towards Picard and Data which sidelined the other core characters. The end result was poorly-written scripts that had very little substance or story apart from that which presented endless monologues from the Picard/Data battery. I had taken pride on seeing every single Trek film in the cinema up until Nemesis – but was so appalled at Insurrection that I gave the final film a miss (so glad I did). Years later, with egos buried and sense reigning supreme – I hope the final series of Picard can undo the crapfest of the last two TNG films.

I really hope they explain Lore’s physical changes, if they don’t it’s going to be ridiculous. I am truly shocked Spiner continues to agree to play these androids again. He was hesitant after Nemesis, and now 20 years later he not only plays Data but he brings back his identical brother, which I am sorry is ridiculous considering the actor is pushing 75 years old.

I was excited for season 1, disappointed when it finished.

I was cautiously pessimistic of season 2, frustrated when it finished.

I am not cautiously optomistic of season 3, I hope it is a satisfying conclusion we have been sold it is. .

As I said in another comment, which i’ll just copy and paste here..

They built in the fact that Brent was going to age as far back as TNG Season 7. In the episode with his “mother” (Inheretence, S7X10) its mentioned that she has an aging program like Lore and Data, so the fact that Data was going to visibly age was already set.
Brent simply wanted to be done playing Data and (frankly) having that be the character he will only be known for. The “Data won’t age” trope is frankly a cop out given that TNG already established he would progressively look older.

Yes, it seems like Spiner and the writers forgot all about “Inheritance”. Lore may be explained to have undergone an early test for mind transfer…with Alton trying to replicate the work of his father and Dr. “Grandpa” Graves. I’ve said this before but Crusher should’ve saved Picard and Data given the golem to become ‘human’

Data’s first death was poignant. His second death was baffling and idiotic. As dumb as Picard dying and becoming a robot.

I haven’t really seen much of the show — they’ve kept it away from me because they know I’ll blow it”

I honestly wonder if there are alternate scenes filmed for the last few episodes so that the cast isn’t 100% about the ending until it airs.