Brent Spiner played Data for over thirty years
Brent Spiner began portraying Lt. Commander Data on Star Trek: The Next Generation in 1987. Though the character perished in Star Trek: Nemesis, his memory engrams remained active until the first season of Star Trek: Picard when Data asked Admiral Picard to effectively delete him. While that erased Data from future appearances, it didn’t erase Spiner’s years of playing the android or the typecasting that came with the role.
Playing Data was a double-edged sword, according to Spiner in a phone interview with Washington Post. He says it has been a great job, but it has been limiting. He believes that there were times he didn’t get a job because he was identified as that character. But he’s okay with that being the reason he didn’t get hired.
"I think there are times maybe I haven’t gotten a job because I am so identified with the character. I, frankly, like to think I’ve been typecast as the reason when I don’t get jobs, because the alternative is that I’m just lousy (laughs). But all that being said with relation to character, if I had to have one character that I had to be typecast as, it would be this character."
The role of Data offered Brent Spiner the opportunity to play other characters
Spiner was never just an android in his time aboard the Enterprise and certainly not just one android anyway. Not only did he play Data’s brother, Lore, which gave Spiner the opportunity to showcase an evil side, he also portrayed his own father, his uncle, his ancestors, and B-4. And he will return to Star Trek: Picard in season two of the series, continuing the character of Altan Inigo Soong, who is the son of Noonien Soong, the creator of Data, B-4, and Lore.
Spiner will always be known as the actor who brought an android to life on Star Trek, and though it may have typecast him for future roles, trekkies are thankful he brought his all to Star Trek: The Next Generation and beyond.