Spiner at the 2019 San Diego Comic-Con
Brent Jay Spiner
February 2, 1949
Houston, Texas, U.S.
|Other names||Brent Jay Mintz (1955-1975)|
|Alma mater||University of Houston|
|Occupation||Actor, comedian, musician, singer|
|Lt. Cdr. Data in Star Trek: The Next Generation and four subsequent films|
Brent Jay Spiner (; born February 2, 1949) is an American actor, comedian, musician and singer best known for his portrayal of the android Data in the television series Star Trek: The Next Generation and four subsequent films and in 2019, 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. He has also enjoyed a career in the theatre and as a musician.
Brent Jay Spiner was born on February 2, 1949, in Houston, Texas, to Sylvia (née Schwartz) and Jack Spiner, a Jewish family, who owned a furniture store. At age 29, Jack Spiner died of kidney failure when Brent 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.
He attended Bellaire High School in 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.
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 nonspeaking role in the film Stardust Memories, credited as "Fan in Lobby", the one with a Polaroid.
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.
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 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, whereas Spiner had already aged considerably during the years in which he played the role. 18 years after last appearing as Data, he reprised the role in the 2020 Star Trek series Star Trek: Picard. Spiner has stated that he does not intend to play that role again, though he might be open to playing the role of Alton Soong.
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. After appearing in several episodes as Arik Soong, the ancestor of Data's creator, Dr. Noonien 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.
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.
Spiner has appeared in the television series Deadly Games, The Blacklist, 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, 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 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 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.
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".
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.
Spiner's web site is at therealbrentspiner.com. He selected that domain name because someone else bought the domain name brentspiner.com before he could do so, and he was not amenable to paying the price the owners demanded for it, which Spiner called "inflated". His website is now defunct, and the therealbrentspiner.com URL as of October 2020 shows only a landing page asking fans to visit Spiner's MySpace page.
|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 Dall||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||N/A||Uncredited|
|1995||Pie in the Sky||Upscale Guy|
|1996||Phenomenon||Dr. Rob 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|
|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||175 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||N/A||Television movie; uncredited|
|1995||Mad About You||Bob, The Dog Agent||Episode: "Just My Dog"|
|1995||Deadly Games||Danny Schlecht||Episode: "The Practical Joker"|
|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||Young Justice||The Joker (voice)||Episode: "Revelation"|
|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||Star Trek: Picard||Lt. Commander Data/B-4/Dr. Altan Inigo Soong||4 episodes|
|2020||The Ready Room||Himself||Aftershow|
Episode: "Episode 20"
|2020||Penny Dreadful: City of Angels||Ned Vanderhoff||Recurring role|
|1978||A History of the American Film||Hank|
|1984-1985||Sunday in the Park with George||Franz/Denis|
|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|
|1991||Ol' Yellow Eyes Is Back||Himself|
|2010||Dreamland||Brent Spiner and Maude Maggart|