Data Retreival with Brent Spiner Brent Spiner dons contact lenses and face paint to reprise the role of the android Data in Star Trek: Insurrection. The actor tells Melissa J Perenson about the latest sci-fi blockbuster.
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Given Brent Spiner’s musical background, it was of little surprise to find the theatrically-trained actor on the Broadway stage last year, completing a nine-month run in the acclaimed revival of the musical 1776. But for him to come right off of a musical and then be called upon to sing Gilbert and Sullivan in a Star Trek movie, of all things… now that was unexpected. But then, laughs Spiner, “I think I’ve sung in the last three films I’ve done. So I think [singing] is becoming a theme.”

The curious can find Spiner’s voice gracing three albums, the 1776 cast album, the album for the Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau comedy Out to Sea, and Ol’ Yellow Eyes, a collection of old standards Spiner recorded several years ago. After having a two-year hiatus separating his work on Star Trek: First Contact and Star Trek: Insurrection, Spiner likens resuming the role of the android Data to slipping into “a comfortable old pair of shoes, you know?” he postulates. “I know the character pretty well after 11 years and I enjoy playing him.” And rejoining his cast mates, he says, was a golden opportunity, since “we really enjoyed playing with each other because that’s what it is.”

The oft-mentioned camaraderie that exists between the former Next Generation castmates is not at all exaggerated, and is clear whenever any of the group greets one another with the most casual of intentions. That long-standing – and unusual – rapport has led Spiner to come up with an unusual idea, one that his fellow castmates all agree is great: that Paramount develop a film that puts the Next Generation cast into a non-Star Trek scenario. Already, Jonathan Frakes has said he will be tabling the pitch to Paramount.

For Spiner, working on Insurrection was no different than the past Trek film experiences. “The challenges are the same as any job,” he says bluntly. “I think it differs in tone more than anything. It’s still a Star Trek movie, and it has a certain familiarity that I think is the ticket with a Star Trek movie. You don’t want to alienate your audience by doing something that is completely unfamiliar to them.

“I think part of what draws people to Star Trek – and has done so for so many years – is that there is a comfort level about it, in terms of the familiarity and in being around people and looking inside a situation with a group of people that [viewers] enjoy being around. This one is a lighter film than Generations or First Contact; those were much darker and edgier. [Insurrection] is more of a romp and has a lighter tone.”

Melissa J Perenson

Continued in Xposé #30

Image © Paramount