Brent Jay Spiner
February 2, 1949
|Other names||Brent Jay Mintz (1955–1975)|
|Alma mater||University of Houston|
|Notable credit(s)||Lt. Cdr. Data in Star Trek: The Next Generation, four subsequent films, and Star Trek: Picard|
Brent Jay Spiner (//; born February 2, 1949) is an American actor. He is best known for his role as the android Data on the television series Star Trek: The Next Generation, as well as four subsequent films. In 2019, he reprised the role for Star Trek: Picard. In 1997, he won the Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of Data in Star Trek: First Contact, and was nominated in the same category for portraying Dr. Brackish Okun in Independence Day, a role he reprised in Independence Day: Resurgence. Spiner has also enjoyed a career in the theater and as a musician.
Brent Jay Spiner was born on February 2, 1949, in Houston, Texas, to Jewish parents Sylvia (née Schwartz) and Jack Spiner, who owned a furniture store. At age 29, Jack Spiner died of kidney failure when his son was ten months old. After his father's death, Spiner was adopted by his mother's second husband, Sol Mintz, whose surname he used between 1955 and 1975.
Spiner attended Bellaire High School in Bellaire, Texas. He 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 theater. In 1968 Spiner worked as a performer at Six Flags Astroworld, first as a gunfighter and later in Dr. Featherflowers Medicine Show with his friend Trey Wilson. Both performers alternated as Dr. Featherflowers. Spiner also performed the role in the 1968 TV special The Pied Piper of Astroworld.
Spiner moved to New York City in the early 1970s, 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 brief non-speaking role in the film Stardust Memories, credited as "Fan in Lobby", the one with a Polaroid. He can also be seen as a passenger on the train full of misfits that the Allen character is trapped on in one of the films-within-the-film.
Spiner appeared as a media technician in "The Advocates", a second-season episode of the Showtime cable series The Paper Chase. 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 revival of Rod Serling's series The Twilight Zone on CBS. He made two appearances in season three (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 appeared in the Tales from the Darkside episode, "A Case of the Stubborns", as a preacher. He portrayed Jim Stevens in the made-for-TV movie Manhunt for Claude Dallas.
Spiner guest-starred in Friends as James Campbell, a man who interviews Rachel for Gucci.
In 1987, Spiner started portraying the android Starfleet officer 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 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 opined that he was too old to continue playing the part, as Data does not age. He plays Lore the Android brother of Data in the Star Trek: The Next Generation and another brother B4 in Star Trek: Nemesis (2002).
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".
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.
Eighteen years after last appearing as Data, he reprised the role in the 2020 Star Trek series Star Trek: Picard as well as Dr Altan Inigo Soong, the son of Data's creator Dr Noonien Soong. Spiner has stated that he does not intend to play that role again, though he might be open to playing the role of Altan Soong. In Season 2 he plays another ancestor of Dr Noonien Soong, Dr Adam Soong in the 2024 storyline and is set to return in Season 3 in an unknown role.
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.
In 1991, Spiner recorded an album of 1940s pop standards, 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 Theater Company revival of the musical 1776. The production was nominated for a Tony Award. A cast recording was released of the revival production.
Spiner has appeared in many television series, including Deadly Games, The Blacklist, Dream On, 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, Independence Day: Resurgence, 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 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 10th 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.
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".
In 2010, Spiner and fellow Star Trek: The Next Generation actor LeVar Burton appeared on TWiT.tv's coverage of the Consumer Electronics Show.
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.
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" of The Big Bang Theory. The day after his guest appearance, it was announced that Spiner would guest-star in the Young Justice episode "Revelation", providing the voice of the Joker. Spiner has also guest-starred on the Syfy program Warehouse 13 as Brother Adrian in the third and fourth seasons.
In October 2021, Spiner released Fan Fiction: A Mem-Noir: Inspired by True Events, a mixture of memoir (taking place during the filming of the fourth season of Star Trek: The Next Generation) and a fictitious noir detective story about Spiner dealing with a crazed, murderous fan who claims to be the fictitious Lal, the android daughter of Data in the third-season TNG episode, "The Offspring". The audiobook version, primarily narrated by Spiner, featured vocal cameos from Spiner's TNG co-stars, Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, Michael Dorn, LeVar Burton, Marina Sirtis, and Gates McFadden.
|1970||My Sweet Charlie||Local||Uncredited|
|1980||Stardust Memories||Fan in lobby|
|1981||Rent Control||Leonard Junger|
|1982||Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains||Corinne Burns's Boss||Uncredited|
|1985||Crime of Innocence||Hinnerman|
|1986||Sunday in the Park with George||Franz/Dennis|
|1986||Sylvan in Paradise||Clinton C. Waddle|
|1986||Manhunt for Claude Dallas||Jim Stevens|
|1987||Family Sins||Ken McMahon|
|1989||Miss Firecracker||Preacher Mann|
|1994||Corrina, Corrina||Brent Witherspoon|
|1994||Star Trek Generations||Lt. Commander Data|
|1995||Kingfish: A Story of Huey Long||—||Uncredited|
|1995||Pie in the Sky||Upscale Guy|
|1996||Phenomenon||Dr. Bob Niedorf|
|1996||Independence Day||Dr. Brackish Okun||Nominated—Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor|
|1996||Star Trek: First Contact||Lt. Commander Data||Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor|
|1997||Out to Sea||Gil Godwyn|
|1998||Star Trek Insurrection||Lt. Commander Data|
|1999||South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut||Conan O'Brien||Voice|
|2000||Dude, Where's My Car?||Pierre||Uncredited|
|2001||I Am Sam||Shoe Salesman|
|2002||The Master of Disguise||Devlin Bowman|
|2002||Star Trek: Nemesis||Lt. Commander Data/B-4|
|2004||The Aviator||Robert Gross|
|2006||Material Girls||Tommy Katzenbach|
|2008||Superhero Movie||Dr. Strom|
|2010||Quantum Quest: A Cassini Space Odyssey||Coach Mackey||Voice|
|2016||The Midnight Man||Ezekiel|
|2016||Independence Day: Resurgence||Dr. Brackish Okun|
|1968||The Pied Piper of Astroworld||Dr. Osgood T. Featherflowers||TV Special|
|1978||The Dain Curse||Tom Fink||Unknown episodes|
|1981||Ryan's Hope||Kim's Doctor||Episode: "#1.1442"|
|1984||The Paper Chase||Student in Reeve's Class||Episode: "The Advocates"|
|1984||Tales from the Darkside||Reverend Peabody||Episode: "A Case of the Stubborns"|
|1984||One Life to Live||Ralph Harley||Episode: "17 December 1984"|
|1985||Robert Kennedy and His Times||Allard Lowenstein||Unknown episodes|
|1985||Hill Street Blues||Larry Stein||Episode: "The Life and Time of Domonic Florio Jr"|
|1985–1987||Night Court||Bob Wheeler||6 episodes|
|1986||The New Twilight Zone||The Draft Dodger||Episode: "The Leprechaun-Artist/Dead Run"|
|1986||American Playhouse||Dennis / Franz||Episode: "Sunday in the Park with George"|
|1986||Hunter||Willie Vaughn||Episode: "The Contract"|
|1986–1987||Mama's Family||Billy Bob Conroy||2 episodes|
|1987||Cheers||Bill Grand||Episode: "Never Love a Goalie (Part 2)"|
|1987||Sledge Hammer!||Soldier||Episode: "The Spa Who Loved Me"|
|1987–1994||Star Trek: The Next Generation||Lt. Commander Data / Lore / Dr. Noonien Soong||177 episodes|
Nominated—Viewers for Quality Television Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Quality Drama Series
|1988||Reading Rainbow||Himself||Episode: "The Bionic Bunny Show"|
|1991||Crazy from the Heart||—||Television movie; uncredited|
|1995||Mad About You||Bob, The Dog Agent||Episode: "Just My Dog"|
|1995||Deadly Games||Danny Schlecht||Episode: "The Practical Joker"|
|1995–1996||Gargoyles||Puck (voice)||4 episodes|
|1996||Dream On||Dr. Strongwater||Episode: "The Spirit of 76th & Park"|
|1996||The Outer Limits||Professor Trent Davis||Episode: "The Deprogrammers"|
|1999||Introducing Dorothy Dandridge||Earl Mills||Television movie|
Nominated—Satellite Award for Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film
|2001||A Girl Thing||Bob||Television movie|
|2001||The Ponder Heart||Dorris Grabney||Television movie|
|2003||Frasier||Albert||Episode: "Lilith Needs a Favor"|
|2003||An Unexpected Love||Brad||Television movie|
|2004||Friends||James Campbell||Episode: "The One with Princess Consuela"|
|2004||Law & Order: Criminal Intent||Graham Barnes||Episode: "Shrink-Wrapped"|
|2004–2005||Star Trek: Enterprise||Dr. Arik Soong / Lt. Commander Data||4 episodes|
|2005||Joey||Himself||Episode: "Joey and the Premier"|
|2005–2006||Threshold||Dr. Nigel Fenway||13 episodes|
|2009||Leverage||William Quint||Episode: "The Juror #6 Job"|
|2009||Family Guy||Himself (voice)||Episode: "Not All Dogs Go to Heaven"|
|2010–2013||Generator Rex||Dr. Gabriel Rylander (voice)||4 episodes|
|2011||The Guild||Himself||Episode: "Ends and Begins"|
|2011||Alphas||Dr. Kern||Episode: "Blind Spot"|
|2011||The Big Bang Theory||Himself||Episode: "The Russian Rocket Reaction"|
|2011, 2021||Young Justice||The Joker (voice)||Episodes: "Revelation", "The Lady, or the Tigress?"|
|2011||Fresh Hell||Brent Spiner||15 episodes|
|2012||The Simpsons||Robots (voice)||Episode: "Them, Robot"|
|2012||The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes||Purple Man (voice)||Episode: "Emperor Stark"|
|2012||Warehouse 13||Brother Adrian||6 episodes|
|2013||Robot Chicken||Dr. Noonien Soong, Gondola Jack, Medic (voice)||Episode: "Caffeine-Induced Aneurysm"|
|2013||Wendell & Vinnie||Himself||Episode: "Swindle & Vinnie"|
|2014||Ray Donovan||Therapist||3 episodes|
|2014||Star Wars Rebels||Gall Trayvis (voice)||2 episodes|
|2014||Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H.||Silver Surfer (voice)||Episode: "Fear Itself"|
|2015||Comedy Bang! Bang!||The Sandman||Episode: "Zach Galifianakis Wears Grey Corduroys and Brown Leather Shoes"|
|2015–2016||Blunt Talk||Phil||4 episodes|
|2016||The Blacklist||The Architect||Episode: "The Architect"|
|2017||Justice League Action||Edward Nygma / The Riddler (voice)||Episode: "E. Nigma, Consulting Detective"|
|2019||The Goldbergs||Dr. Emry||Episode: "This is This is Spinal Tap"|
|2020–present||Star Trek: Picard||Data||2 episodes|
|Dr. Altan Inigo Soong||2 episodes|
|Adam Soong||6 episodes|
|2020||The Ready Room||Himself||Episode: "Episode 20"|
|2020||Penny Dreadful: City of Angels||Ned Vanderhoff||6 episodes|
|2021||Young Justice: Phantoms||The Joker (voice)||6 episodes|
|1978||A History of the American Film||Hank|
|1984–1985||Sunday in the Park with George||Franz/Dennis|
|1984||The Three Musketeers||Aramis|
|1985–1987||Big River||The Duke|
|1997–1998||1776||John Adams||Nominated—Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actor in a Musical|
|2003||Life × 3||Hubert|
|2009||Man of La Mancha||Cervantes|
|2015||Rain of the Ghosts||Setebos, Ducky Simpson|
|2021||Fan Fiction: A Mem-Noir: Inspired by True Events||Brent Spiner, Various|
|1991||Ol' Yellow Eyes Is Back||Himself|
|2010||Dreamland||Brent Spiner and Maude Maggart|