Brent Spiner

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Brent Spiner
Brent Spiner by Gage Skidmore.jpg
Spiner in May 2012
BornBrent Jay Spiner
(1949-02-02) February 2, 1949 (age 65)
Houston, Texas, U.S.
Alma materUniversity of Houston
OccupationActor, Comedian, Musician
Years active1970–present
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Brent Spiner
Brent Spiner by Gage Skidmore.jpg
Spiner in May 2012
BornBrent Jay Spiner
(1949-02-02) February 2, 1949 (age 65)
Houston, Texas, U.S.
Alma materUniversity of Houston
OccupationActor, Comedian, Musician
Years active1970–present

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]


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.


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'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 He selected that domain name because someone else bought the domain name 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]



1970My Sweet CharlieLocalUncredited
1980Stardust MemoriesFan in lobby
1982Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous StainsCorinne Burns's BossUncredited
1984Rent ControlLeonard Junger
1985Crime of InnocenceHinnerman
1986Sunday in the Park with GeorgeFranz/Dennis
1986Sylvan in ParadiseClinton C. Waddle
1986Manhunt for Claude DallJim Stevens
1987Family SinsKen McMahon
1989Miss FirecrackerPreacher Mann
1991Crazy from the Heart

TV Movie; uncredited

1994Corrina, CorrinaBrent Witherspoon
1994Star Trek GenerationsLt. Commander Data
1995Kingfish: A Story of Huey LongUncredited
1996Pie in the SkyUpscale Guy
1996Independence DayDr. Brackish Okun
1996PhenomenonDr. Rob Niedorf
1996Star Trek: First ContactLt. Commander Data
1997Out to SeaGil Godwyn
1998Star Trek: InsurrectionLt. Commander Data
1999South Park: Bigger, Longer & UncutConan O'BrienVoice
1999Introducing Dorothy DandridgeEarl Parks
2000Dude, Where's My Car?PierreUncredited
2001A Girl ThingBob
2001The Ponder HeartDorris Grabney
2001I Am SamShoe Salesman
2002The Master of DisguiseDevlin Bowman
2002Star Trek NemesisLt. Commander Data/B-4
2003An Unexpected LoveBrad
2004The AviatorRobert Gross
2006Material GirlsTommy Katzenbach
2008Superhero MovieDr. Strom
2010Quantum Quest: A Cassini Space OdysseyCoach MackeyVoice


1978The Dain CurseTom FinkTV mini-series
1979FamilyFred1 episode, "Prelude"
1981Ryan's HopeThe Doctor Examining Kim1 episode
1984The Paper ChaseStudent in Reeve's Class1 episode, "The Advocates"
1984Tales from the DarksideReverend Peabody1 episode, "A Case of the Stubborns"
1984One Life to LiveRalph Harley1 episode
1985Robert Kennedy & His TimesAllard LowensteinTV mini-series
1985Hill Street BluesLarry Stein1 episode, "The Life and Time of Domonic Florio Jr"
1985-1987Night CourtBob Wheeler6 episodes
1986The New Twilight ZoneThe Draft Dodger1 episode, "The Leprechaun-Artist/Dead Run"
1986American PlayhouseDennis/Franz1 episode, "Sunday in the Park with George"
1986HunterWillie Vaughn1 episode, "The Contract"
1986-1987Mama's FamilyBilly Bob Conroy2 episodes
1987CheersBill Grand1 episode, "Never Love a Goalie (Part 2)"
1987Sledge Hammer!Soldier1 episode, "The Spa Who Loved Me"
1987-1994Star Trek: The Next GenerationLt. Commander Data/Lore/Dr. Noonien Soong177 episodes
1995Mad About YouBob, The Dog Agent1 episode, "Just My Dog"
1995Deadly GamesDanny Schlecht1 episode, "The Practical Joker"
1995-1996GargoylesPuck4 episodes
1996Dream OnDr. Strongwater1 episode, "The Spirit of 76th & Park"
1996The Outer LimitsProfessor Trent Davis1 episode, "The Deprogrammers"
2003FrasierAlbert1 episode, "Lilith Needs a Favor"
2004FriendsJames CampbellSeason 10 episode 14: "The One with Princess Consuela"
2004Law & Order: Criminal IntentGraham Barnes1 episode, "Shrink-Wrapped"
2004-2005Star Trek: EnterpriseDr. Arik Soong/Lt. Commander Data4 episodes
2005JoeyHimself1 episode: "Joey and the Premier"
2005-2006ThresholdDr. Nigel Fenway13 episodes
2009LeverageWilliam Quint1 episode, "The Juror #6 Job"
2009Family GuyHimself1 episode, "Not All Dogs Go to Heaven"
2010-2013Generator RexDr. Gabriel Rylander4 episodes
2011Fresh HellHimself/Brent Spiner
2011The GuildHimself1 episode, "Ends and Begins"
2011AlphasDr. Kern1 episode, "Blind Spot"
2011The Big Bang TheoryHimself1 episode, "The Russian Rocket Reaction"
2011Young JusticeThe Joker1 episode, "Revelation"
2012The SimpsonsRobots1 episode, "Them, Robot"
2012The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest HeroesPurple Man1 episode, "Emperor Stark"
2012-Warehouse 13Brother Adrian6 episodes, Season 4
2013-Wendell & VinnieHimself1 episode, "Swindle & Vinnie"
2014Ray DonovanTherapist2 episodes
2014-Star Wars Rebels???[18][19]


  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".
  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", 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). Retrieved July 23, 2012.
  10. ^ Tenuto, John (April 27, 2008). "Review: Brent Spiner’s Dreamland + Interview + Signed CD Giveaway".
  11. ^ Running time: 12:53. "The TWiT Netcast Network with Leo Laporte". 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". February 2, 2014. 
  17. ^ "Spiner And McFadden Interview About New Collaboration". September 18, 2013. 
  18. ^ "Star Trek's Brent Spiner Joins Star Wars Rebels". 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". 2014-02-19. Retrieved 5/10/14.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)

External links[edit]