STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION
Brent Spiner’s primary claim to fame is his portrayal of the beloved android Data on the television series Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987).
After a couple of false starts in New York and Hollywood, Spiner eventually established himself as a stage actor in New York, appearing in a number of off-Broadway and Broadway plays, such as “A History of the American Film” (1978), “Leave It to Beaver is Dead” (1979), “Sunday in the Park with George” (1984), and “Big River: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” (1985). While in New York, he had a bit part in Woody Allen’s Stardust Memories (1980) and starred in an independent film called Rent Control (1984). The play “Little Shop of Horrors” brought Spiner to Los Angeles in 1984, where he eventually took up permanent residence.
In 1986, after a number of character parts in television series and movies, such as Robert Kennedy and His Times (1985), Crime of Innocence (1985), Manhunt for Claude Dallas (1986), and Family Sins (1987), Spiner snagged the role that would bring him international fame: Data, the endearing android, whom Spiner played “by tapping into his inner child.” Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987), the sequel to the original television series Star Trek (1966), became hugely popular, moving to the big screen for four films (so far) after its 7-year run on television. Aside from these films, Spiner has made cameo appearances in a number of films directed by his friend and old schoolmate Thomas Schlamme, such as Miss Firecracker (1989), Crazy from the Heart (1991), and Kingfish: A Story of Huey P. Long (1995), and has appeared in small roles in more recent films, such as Dude, Where’s My Car? (2000) and The Master of Disguise (2002). Arguably his most popular film portrayal was Dr. Brakish Okun in Independence Day (1996), a role that elicited his unique eccentricity and sense of humor. He reprised the character in the sequel, Independence Day: Resurgence (2016).