“All kinds of things are possible. It's 'Star Trek' for God sakes.” Brent Spiner
Hailing from Houston, Texas, Brent Spiner is famous as Lieutenant Commander Data, an android who serves as the second officer and chief operations officer aboard the starships USS Enterprise-D and USS Enterprise-E, on the syndicated smash hit sci-fi adventure series "Star Trek: The Next Generation" (1987-1994). He later reprised the role for the series’ feature film spin-offs, "Star Trek: Generations" (1995), "Star Trek: First Contact" (1996), which won him a Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor, "Star Trek: Insurrection" (1998) and "Star Trek: Nemesis" (2002).
Spiner also played significant roles in the films "Independence Day" (1996), "Phenomenon" (1996), "South Park: Bigger Longer & Uncut" (1999; voice), "Introducing Dorothy Dandridge" (1999; TV), "Dude, Where's My Car" (2000), "The Master of Disguise" (2002), "The Aviator" (2004), "Material Girls" (2006) and "Superhero Movie" (2008).
Spiner, who has had a long career in Broadway musicals, has appeared in a number of Broadway plays, including “A History of the American Film,” “Sunday in the Park with George,” “Big River: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” “The Three Musketeers,” “Life Times Three,” and “1776,” for which he received a Drama Desk Award nomination for Best Actor in a Musical.
Besides acting, Spiner also displayed his singing talent in his CDs, "Ol' Yellow Eyes is Back," where he sang back-up vocals with his male co-stars from "Star Trek: The Next Generation" (1987), and "Dreamland," which was recently released in 2008.
On a more personal front, the 5' 11" thespian was romantically linked to actress Swoosie Kurtz in the 1970s and actress Terry Farrell in the 1990s. He has been with publicist Loree McBride since 1994 and has one son with her.
“Hollywood has more than its share of harsh and cruel stories. In fact, it's probably more the norm than the exception.” Brent Spiner
Childhood and Family:
In Houston, Texas, Brent Jay Spiner was born on February 2, 1949, to Jewish-American parents Sylvia, a corporate vice president, and Jack Spiner, who owned and operated a furniture store. When he was only 10 months old, his father died of kidney failure at age 29. When he was 6 years old, his mother married Sol Mintz, who adopted Brent and his older brother Ronald. Although his mother divorced Mintz after 7 years of marriage, Brent retained his adopted father's last name until he was 20 when he took back his birth name.
Young Spiner attended Bellaire High School in Houston, Texas, with actor Randy Quaid, and graduated in 1968. While studying there, he began pursuing his interest in acting and was influenced by his drama teacher Cecil Pickett, who coached such people as Cindy Pickett, Randy Quaid, Dennis Quaid, Trey Wilson, Robert Wuhl, and Thomas Schlamme. Spiner was also active in the Bellaire Speech team and won the national championship in dramatic interpretation.
Graduating from Trinity College, Spiner enrolled at the University of Houston and performed in local theatres. However, he didn't continue his studies and moved to New York City to become a stage actor. He performed in several Broadway and off-Broadway plays.
Spiner, who maintains a high level of privacy about his personal life, was romantically linked to Primetime Emmy and Tony Award winning actress Swoosie Kurtz (born on September 6, 1944) in the '70s and fashion model-turned-actress Terry Farrell (born on November 19, 1963) in the '90s. He has been with publicist Loree McBride since 1994 and his marital status is uncertain. Some sources have cited Loree McBride as his wife, while others maintain that the two are not married. The couple has one son named Jackson Spiner who was born on June 29, 2002.
Spiner was a groomsman at Marina Sirtis's wedding and served as the best man at Patrick Stewart's wedding. He is also the godfather of Gates McFadden's son. He currently lives in Los Angeles.
“I really think that success in this field is about tenacity and just sticking with it.” Brent Spiner
Beginning to pursue his interest in acting while in high school, Brent Spiner left his studies at the University of Houston to move to New York City to get a job as an actor. He worked as a cab driver before eventually becoming a notable actor on Broadway.
In his early years on stage, he played a number of roles in off-Broadway productions, including the musical "Leave It to Beaver Is Dead," which was produced by Joseph Papp as part of the New York Shakespeare Festival, and the romantic “The Seagull” (he portrayed Treplev) by Anton Chekhov that was also shown at the New York Shakespeare Festival. He appeared on TV in the CBS mystery miniseries based on the 1929 novel by Dashiell Hammett, "The Dain Curse" (1978), playing Tom Fink.
"The play that finally pushed me over into the serious actor category was a public theater production of 'The Seagull' [Anton Chekhov] for Joseph Papp." Brent Spiner
The talented actor soon landed on Broadway in 1978 with "A History of the American Film" and followed it up with a supporting role in the Stephen Sondheim-James Lapine award-winning musical biography of painter Georges Seurat, "Sunday in the Park with George" (1984; with Mandy Patinkin and Bernadette Peters). He also co-starred as Aramis, one of the musketeers, in the adventure-turned-musical bomb "The Three Musketeers" (1984), which closed after only nine performances, and replaced Rene Auberjonois as con artist The Duke in the award-winning musical "Big River" (1985), Roger Miller's adaptation of Mark Twain's classic 1884 novel, "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn."
Spiner had a bit part in Woody Allen's “Stardust Memories” (1980) and had his first major film role in the independent drama/comedy/romance "Rent Control" (1981; released in 1984). After starring in the play “Little Shop of Horrors,” he moved to Los Angeles in 1984 where he landed several pilots and made-for-television movies. He played the recurring guest role of Bob Wheeler (1985-1987), the patriarch of a family of West Virginia hicks, in the popular NBC sitcom "Night Court."
After his "Night Court" stint, Spiner gained fame as Lt. Commander Data, an android who serves as the second officer and chief operations officer aboard the starships USS Enterprise-D and USS Enterprise-E, on the syndicated smash hit sci-fi adventure series "Star Trek: The Next Generation" (1987-1994). To get into his role, Spiner used the character Robbie The Robot from the film “Forbidden Planet” as the main role model. He later reprised the role for the series’ first feature, "Star Trek: Generations" (1995), and its sequels "Star Trek: First Contact" (1996), which won him a Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor, "Star Trek: Insurrection" (1998) and "Star Trek: Nemesis" (2002).
About the four films, Spiner commented, "'Generations,' I thought was rushed... something about that story just didn’t blend correctly. ’First Contact' was probably our best film just because we had a better script. We were all at the top of our game by then because we’d had some time off and we’d come back with a sense of reunion that really made it work. What can you say about 'Insurrection’? It got some good reviews but I think that it was our weakest film because it was just too light. I think that the story was misguided. And then there was 'Nemesis,' which could have been our best film. I liked it."
Spiner also played Data's evil twin brother, Lore, and Data's "father," Doctor Noonien Soong, in several episodes of “Next Generation.” In 2002, he played B-4 in “Star Trek Nemesis,” and In October 2004, he began a three series guest appearance on UPN's "Enterprise" (2001), appearing as Arik Soong, the great-great-grandfather of Dr. Noonien Soong (creator of Data). Along with Rick Berman and John Logan, he co-wrote the story for “Star Trek Nemesis.” He even co-produced and released his first album titled "Ol' Yellow Eyes is Back" (based on an old crooner song of the 1940s), where he sang back-up vocals with his male co-stars from "Star Trek: The Next Generation" (1987).
Spiner was also featured in Thomas Schlamme's comedy "Miss Firecracker" (1989; with Holly Hunter, Mary Steenburgen, Tim Robbins, Alfre Woodard, and Scott Glenn), which was written by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Beth Henley and is based on her 1984 play, "The Miss Firecracker Contest."
"I don't think I should play Data anymore. I think I'm too old to play him anymore to be honest. I think it would look stupid putting that make-up on me at this point. There certain characters that I think work in a youthful way and I think I really skated along the edge in the last couple movies as it was." Brent Spiner
Feeling that he was getting too old to play Data on "Star Trek: The Next Generation" (1987), his character was eventually killed off. He was then cast in two blockbuster hits, Jon Turteltaub's drama, romance, and fantasy film starring John Travolta, "Phenomenon" (1996), and Roland Emmerich's Academy Award-winning science fiction film about a hostile alien invasion of Earth, "Independence Day," which earned him a Saturn Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor.
The rest of the decade, Spiner played a control-freak cruise director to Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau's characters in the Martha Coolidge-directed romantic comedy film "Out to Sea" (1997) and returned to Broadway in the role of John Adams, opposite Michael Cumpsty, in the 1997 revival of the musical “1776,” which earned Spiner a Drama Desk Award nomination. He also co-starred as Dorothy Dandridge's faithful manager in the HBO biopic about the first African-American actress to be nominated for an Oscar ("Carmen Jones" 1954), "Introducing Dorothy Dandridge" (1999; Halle Berry in the title role), which handed him a Golden Satellite Award nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a Miniseries or a Motion Picture Made for Television, and lent his vocal talent to Trey Parker's Academy Award-nominated animated satirical comedy/musical film "South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut" (1999), in which he impersonated Emmy-winning late night talk show host Conan O'Brien.
Entering the new millennium, Spiner had an unaccredited appearance in Danny Leiner's comedy film starring Ashton Kutcher and Seann William Scott, "Dude, Where's My Car?," and delivered a comic turn as Stromboli in the ABC/Disney TV musical "Geppetto," starring Drew Carey in the title role and Julia Louis-Dreyfus as the Blue Fairy. He subsequently played criminal mastermind Devlin Bowman in the Dana Carvey comedy "The Master of Disguise" (2002), and performed with Helen Hunt and John Turturro in Yasmina Reza's play "Life X 3" in May 2003 at the Circle in the Square on Broadway in New York City.
2004 saw Spiner portray aviation businessman Robert E. Gross in Martin Scorsese's Academy Award-winning biopic "The Aviator.” Spiner, who once played a fictional character called James Campbell the hit NBC sitcom "Friends" (1994), appeared as himself in the spin-off series "Joey" (2004), starring former “Friends” star Matt LeBlanc.
Spiner was cast as Dr. Nigel Fenway in the failed CBS sci-fi drama series "Threshold" (2005-2006) and the CEO of a besieged cosmetics company in Martha Coolidge's satirical teen comedy film starring Hilary Duff and Haylie Duff, "Material Girls" (2006). He was recently seen as Dr. Strom in Craig Mazin's comedy film "Superhero Movie” and has released a new CD called “Dreamland” (2008).
"I wanted to do a CD and vocally I’m most suited to singing American standards because I grew up with that kind of music, listening to people like Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra, so that’s the kind of music I most prefer." Brent Spiner
Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films: Saturn Award-Best Supporting Actor, "Star Trek: First Contact," 1997