Good afternoon! I'm excited to be doing this finally, especially coming off a new season of Fresh Hell. Ask Me Anything for the next hour or so, then I have an appointment to make but I'll be back later to respond to as many more as I can. I'd like to thank my 9th grade typing teacher, Mrs. Holman, for making this possible. Web series friend Mike Feurstein will be pasting my responses into the forums as I type so please forgive any minor delay.

Proof at my Twitter

EDIT 5:17 EST: Wow! Lots of excellent questions! Thank you for your patience as I get through them. EDIT 5:29 EST: Still going through them. I'm having an easier time answering the shorter single questions and will attempt to tackle some of the longer multi-questions later. EDIT 5:45 EST: 33 down, lots to go. Thanks again for your patience! EDIT 5:56 EST: As we near the end of my current time available I want to thank all of you so much for the amazing response and great questions. Mike will be sending me a load of unanswered questions to answer when I leave, and I will answer as many more as I can later. EDIT 6:07 EST: Late for my proctologist. Sorry for the long delays. I'm in my office and there's no bathroom. Had to pee in the sink. Thanks to Mike for helping me. And thanks to everyone for your questions. I'll answer as many as I can when I get back. EDIT 8:08 AM 8/17/12: Much appreciation for everyone asking and waiting for responses. This is a lot of work, wow! But I intend to answer some more later this afternoon. EDIT 7:43 PM: Back with more answers, though might not be much more after this for awhile. We both expected as much work doing an AMA, but it's another thing reading all the wonderful comments and then thinking on and answering great questions. Takes a while! Here goes a few more...

EDIT 8:09 PM: Thanks to everyone who submitted questions. I enjoyed this. Hope you did, too. Now I have to go watch a Woody Harrelson movie...

Zombieland. So funny.

Comments: 3069 • Responses: 46  • Date: 

Data_1021 karma

Hi Brent.

In your recent interview for the TNG Blu-Rays you described your audition process for TNG. You said how you almost walked out of the audition because they wanted you to play Data as 'robotic', and you prepared to play him as 'kind of like a person'. This is how we see Data in the first two seasons - even smiling occasionally, like when lifting Wesley out of the water in 'Encouter at Farpoint'. Starting from season 3, he became much more robotic. Was this your idea or did the producers/writers feel he should be a lot less human?

Also, exactly how awesome is it to walk around on the Enterprise? :)

BSPINER405 karma

Really? I didn't see it that way. I don't think I became more robotic at all. I think we continued to see Data trying on the faces and elements of humanity. But, I haven't gone back and watched the show. I've only ever seen about twenty episodes, so maybe you know better than me. Seriously.

s0apscum929 karma

Hello, Brent! I'm the goofy fan who had been working on this portrait of you.

Someone suggested today that I greet you with a creepy fan vibe, and while I'm not, I wonder (other than this one) what is the most uncomfortable, creepy, or generally socially awkward fan situation you've experienced.

See you at Comic-Con Austin in October! <sinister laugh> (just kidding)

p.s. I love the new Fresh Hell series!

BSPINER1509 karma

Wasn't able to pull it up. But, I love it. I really don't like thinking of things in that way. People do what they do. Everyone has their way of communicating and sometimes it's driven by love or hate or fear or kindness or meanness. Whatever. I don't want to ridicule someone's behavior. It's all pretty much okay with me. The only thing I don't condone is intentional cruelty.

dylyn231 karma

"Hey I've been working on this portrait of you for the last 10 years, and this will probably be the only time ever that I will be able to show it to you, heres the link"

"Wasn't able to pull it up, but to answer your question...."


BSPINER52 karma

Got to see it finally, commented above.

BSPINER248 karma

[Got to see it] I think it's very nicely done. The artist is obviously very talented. But, I have to say, much like I don't enjoy watching myself on film, i don't particularly relish seeing pictures of myself. I think it's more for other people's enjoyment. However, congratulations to the artist.

cws837675 karma

Hi Brent, I wanted to start by saying that The Next Generation is by far the best show I have ever watched, and Data is my favorite character. As for a question, did you base any of your portrayal of Data off of people with Autism? Thank you so much for doing an AMA.

BSPINER1240 karma

No, I was unaware of it at the time. I have been subsequently made aware of the connection. Had I known, I might've pushed more in that direction, but then, it might've thrown things off. I'm very moved that kids with Autism have responded and related to the character.

LordJezo597 karma

When playing Data on such a constant basis did you ever dream of electric sheep?

BSPINER1913 karma

No, I dreamt about Michelle Pfeiffer in those days.

Taremz564 karma

Oh boy! This is the one IAmA that I actually intended to be on time for. My dad and I have been huge fans of Star Trek The Next Generation for years. I've seen every episode. Data was easily one of my favorite characters throughout the entire series, if not my favorite. It would mean a lot to both of us if you could answer this!

Anyways, enough about that. My question is; What was it like in all that makeup for your character Data? How long did it take to put it on? Was it uncomfortable, or did you get used to it?

Thanks a lot! Again, huge fan!

BSPINER846 karma

The make-up was a nightmare. Particularly the contact lenses. Took an hour fifteen. That process was made very pleasurable by Michael Westmore, a genius and a very nice man.

beevbo273 karma

Who hated the make-up chair more, you or Michael Dorn?

BSPINER70 karma

You'd have to ask him. I'd guess we both like the chair and hated the make-up.

bbooth76562 karma

I just want to know if you remember my sister and I. We met you at the Albuquerque Comic Con in January. We were the twins. My sister already had the insignia tattooed on her chest and then asked you to sign above it and got it filled in as a tattoo.

Edit: Here is a picture of it. And one with the man himself.

BSPINER1069 karma

Of course I remember you...well, not you, but your sister. Not sure I ultimately felt okay about that. But, hey, it's her chest.

TS409506 karma

I have a million things I could say to you, Brent.

  1. First off, Thank you!
  2. What's your favorite TNG episode?
  3. What was your favorite thing to do as a child?
  4. What's your favorite aspect of your life post-TNG?
  5. [in asphyxiated whisper] reeeleeeaaasssse meeeeee

    5.a. Would you ever consider marrying me?

BSPINER904 karma

You're welcome. Measure of a Man. Sleep. Sleep. Probably not, but never say never.

psychicoctopusSP497 karma

My wife is to shy the ask this question so I will do it on her behalf:

why are you so awesome?

BSPINER1508 karma

She knows. She's just pretending she doesn't know me.

Destructor1701469 karma

Have you thought about making an appearance on Community, since LeVar has established himself as a part of that world?

BSPINER1302 karma

The people from "Community" called and checked my availability at one point. But, John Goodman got the part. I always lose parts to him. We're very alike.

[deleted]452 karma

What's it like having your character in Independence Day compared to Steve Collins, who's on the NASA Curiosity team?

BSPINER799 karma

I think they compared him to me, didn't they? But, honored. As I'm sure he is.

grutt417 karma

Has your role in Star Trek as Data affected your real life relationships? I have always been curious if you ever acted emotionless off the set after 8 years of a wonderful performance.

BSPINER1012 karma

I'm sure it has in someways, but I'm so emotionally repressed I've never noticed it.

AdrienneSparrow377 karma

On a day-to-day basis, what brings you the most joy and excitement?

BSPINER1030 karma

That's easy. My son.

dunkelzahn335 karma

Did you prefer playing Data or Lore?

(edit: fixed)

BSPINER560 karma

You mean, "did" I prefer playing Data or Lore? I enjoyed both. Seriously. They both presented different challenges.

GoramNerfherder334 karma

I loved that somehow when playing those roles, you managed to make the characters so identical, especially when Lore was pretending to be Data, yet there was some indescribable element that made it so I knew which one you were playing at all times.

BSPINER76 karma

Thanks. That's what I was shooting for and it's rewarding to know it worked.

[deleted]332 karma

I have fond memories of you in Night Court and you've obviously had quite the variety of roles. Which roles were (or are based on your current projects) the most challenging or fun for you to play?

BSPINER515 karma

I like comedy. I've always really just wanted to do that. But, careers have lives of their own. And I wind up doing a lot of things I'm not really that good at.

duckspunk323 karma

Hi Mr. Spiner! I'm aspiring porn actor seeking acting advice. I have particularly pendulous balls. My balls hang really low. I'm afraid I might lose jobs because the actual penetration is obscured by my very heavy balls. So... can you help me with that? I just thought there might be some scrotum-tightening exercises we could do.

Just kidding, I just really like your webseries. What's your favorite part of making it?

PS downvoters, it's a quote from Fresh Hell.

BSPINER284 karma

Try clothespins.

Everything about it is fun. I work with some great people. Chris Ellis who directs is a brilliant comic mind and Harry Hannigan who writes the show is a genius. I laugh out loud when I read his scripts. The cast is terrific, everyone of them and the crew has been stellar.

not-a-cylon291 karma

1.) What is your favorite sci-fi movie?

2.) As I age, I also watch icons from my childhood such as yourself age as well, and it's somewhat surreal. Have you experienced anything similar with any of your own mentors or icons as they aged, and what has it been like?

3.) And more importantly, can we expect you to put out a new album?

BSPINER498 karma

Blade Runner. Thank you, but I think I've aged like most humans. I don't find it surreal. It happens to almost everyone. Except Joan Rivers. Doubt I'll do another album. Loved doing them, but too difficult to recoup. Takes too much time and energy to sell the damn things.

Claptrap8283 karma

If you had the opportunity to take on any other career field aside from acting, which would you choose?

BSPINER561 karma


Improvised0283 karma

For starters, Data is the best TV character of all time, IMHO. That said, do you ever feel like Data pigeonholed your acting career to some extent? It often seems like some very good actors are "cursed" by their quality work with a well known character.

Second question, how come Lore didn't have an evil goatee?

BSPINER451 karma

Thank you. I agree. I don't know, maybe. Do I think I've gotten to do everything I should have, or could have. No. But, I've gotten to do some really cool stuff, so I'm not bitching.

A_Smart_Caveman267 karma

Just wanted to say thank you for your work, and well, just being you.

Here's my question: Were you a Star Trek fan before you got your role as Data?

BSPINER499 karma

I watched the show when I was in college. Came home and watched it daily. 79 times.

MrTravesty249 karma

Do you have any plans to work on anything Star Trek related in the future?

BSPINER438 karma

Nope, no plans. But,then, that was never in my control. Still isn't.

purplepleeb233 karma

First of all, you are my idol and a stellar actor!

Okay, I love the relationship between Data and Geordi in TNG. Were you guys good friends thus creating a natural chemistry between your characters? Are you guys still good friends?

You've accomplished a lot... but what's something you've always wanted to do or accomplish, but haven't yet?

One more TNG question: NEMESIS SPOILER: What would you have wanted Data to go on to do and accomplish had he not exploded in Nemesis?

Thanks a million!

BSPINER510 karma

I didn't know LeVar before ST. We became good friends as did the entire cast. We are still very close. All of us.

TXGhandi229 karma

What is it like being a part of Warehouse 13?

BSPINER414 karma

I loved doing Warehouse 13. Great show runner, producer, writer Jack Kenny. Great cast. And much fun hanging with my long time buddy, Saul Rubinek. All in all, a great experience. And they paid me.

[deleted]87 karma


BSPINER46 karma

Yeah. It felt that way to us, too. I think that's part of the wonderful irony of me playing these scenes with Saul. Fact is, we're very good friends. Have been since 1978. We did a play in NY together with Maury Chaikin, Mandy Patinkin, and Diane Wiest. It was an amazing show called, "Leave it to Beaver is Dead".

always_horny_guy226 karma

Who has had the biggest, or most important influence on your life?

BSPINER485 karma

My biggest influence was my teacher, Cecil Pickett. He taught me in both high school and college. He gave me an awareness and a confidence that I had something to offer. Nothing better than having a great teacher come into your life.

AsAChemicalEngineer221 karma

Hi! I met you at the Phoenix com-icon back in May, chatted with you for a bit, but I couldn't help but sense that it was kinda like the scene from A Christmas Story where the kid meets his hero and just doesn't know what to say.

You kinda spend the whole time cracking jokes at my expense, but it's all good. :D Anyway, is there anything in particular you like to talk about when fan meet you? Anything to avoid, or topics which are good so that we get the most out of meeting you?

BSPINER653 karma

Sorry if I said anything to hurt your feelings. That's never my goal. I hope to amuse, that's all. But, no, anyone can say or ask anything they want when you meet me. Well, except for you.

ProfessorPickaxe202 karma

Brent, my wife and I saw you as John Adams in "1776" on Broadway some years ago. It was a wonderful and heartfelt performance.

  • What did you do (or do you do) to prepare for stage roles vs. film roles?
  • Did you do any research about John Adams or the signing of the Declaration for your role in the play?

BSPINER307 karma

I did do a lot of reading about John Adams, and I visited Independence Hall. But, in general, acting is acting. It's just a question of size. You talk louder on stage.

emceemaule188 karma

Which Data is your favorite, with or without the emotion chip?

BSPINER380 karma

I like all of the Data, with or without.

wan02184 karma

Hi Brent!

Not a question here. Just wanted to say TNG was my favorite show during my mid teens, and you were my favorite actor on the show.

BSPINER263 karma

Thanks. I really do appreciate that.

lordarchaon666169 karma

What was your initial reaction to being told that you were going to die in Nemesis?

Also, will you be appearing at Star Trek London in October?

BSPINER285 karma

I wasn't told. John Logan, Rick Berman and I decided that would be an emotional ending to what were almost certain was our last film. And it was our last film. Yes, I plan to be there.

Gizardmeat168 karma

Did you ever find it uncomfortable being that close to Frakes' meat and potatoes?

BSPINER115 karma

Well, the meat was a little discomforting, but I never had a problem with the potatoes.

byte_2702151 karma

Sir, you're my absolute hero. You know that. ;-) Many thanks for all your great performances. You're a wonderful actor and singer! A question about Fresh Hell. Are you already working on Fresh Hell season 3?

BSPINER204 karma

We're discussing Season 3 and trying to figure out where to go with it. We have lots of ideas. It'll probably be a while before we post it. We have to write it, shoot it, edit it, etc... But thanks for mentioning it. Hope you've enjoyed it so far.

fyen138 karma

1.)So if you still remember could you tell what's the story behind Data's Life Forms song? Who did come up with that and how?

2.)Tell us the funniest anecdote about you and someone from TNG?

3.) Did any scientific/metaphysical topic that come up in an TNG episode caught your attention for a longer period of time?

BSPINER64 karma

Brannon Braga and Ron Moore wrote the script for the movie, and they wrote a stage direction "Data sings" and the lines, "Life forms, you tiny little life forms, etc..." That's exactly what it said. So, I just came up with a little melody and enhanced it a little bit.

IHaveGreyPoupon117 karma

I'm not very tall. Do you weigh more than me?

BSPINER322 karma

No, but I'm taller than you.

MHB210116 karma

Hi Brent! I've been a massive Star Trek fan since I was about five years old and just wanted to say thanks for all the years of quality entertainment.

My question: Who would you pick to play Data in a TNG reboot?

Also, any plans for a return to The Big Bang Theory?

BSPINER230 karma

Are they doing a reboot? Don't know. May never happen. Maybe my son can do it when he's old enough.

Frajer112 karma

Would you say most trekkies are cool are are the stereotypical "in this episode you were wearing a blue hat in one scene and a red hat in the next scene"?

Any interesting experiences with fans?

BSPINER265 karma

I think most of the fans are cool. Every now and them someone will cross the line. But, they are all just people and I have a hard time commenting on "groups of people". Too many to mention here. Or type here.

Keenfordevon111 karma

Hey Brent, huge fan, I have some questions!

  • Can you stand cats after Spot?

  • Did you and Levar have a bromance off set?

  • what was your favourite thing to act in?

  • What is your favourite star trek episode?

  • Date or Lore?

BSPINER427 karma

Don't mind cats, at all. But, I'm really a dog person. Spot was a few nice cats who also happened to be the worst actors I've ever worked with.

playblu110 karma

So I've heard rumors that certain guest stars on ST:TNG were... perhaps less than pleasant. Without naming names - but perhaps a hint only true basement-dwellers like me would decipher - could you relate any stories regarding any disagreeable actors?

BSPINER208 karma

The only one I can remember is Laurence Tierney. When he arrived at the gate, he drove through the electronic arm and broke it. I was constantly afraid he was going to hit me. But, I was thrilled to work with him, and he was awfully talented.

Dr_VanBuren101 karma

How difficult was it getting into character as Data, having to mimic his automatonic movements and nuances? What about having to relate to a character that has no human feelings?

BSPINER183 karma

It wasn't any more or less difficult than any role. It's always a set of problems that need to be solved. But, once I kind of knew what I wanted to do with it, the whole process of getting into make-up each morning sort of catapulted me into character.

Blonde_Sparkle101 karma

I absolutely loved Threshold and was sad to see it cancelled. I want to know so bad what was going to happen in the next season(s), especially the development of dr. Fenway. Could you tell me a little (or a lot!) about what was set to happen?

BSPINER177 karma

Thanks. I really enjoyed that show and was sad to see it cancelled. Particularly, since my character and Carla Gugino's character were going to wind up together. (In my dreams, again)

kudomonster96 karma

Dear Mr. Spiner, I wanted to thank you for "speaking" with us today. As cheesy as it may sound, it's an honor. I grew up watching you on TNG with my Dad.

What are your some of your proudest moments and what are some moments you wish you could revisit?

BSPINER126 karma

I've never really experienced being particularly proud of anything. I've enjoyed doing a lot of things. I'm happy for the opportunities I've been given. I'd like to do it all again. Well, the good things.

purplepleeb84 karma

This is from my brother:

Can you still and do you do your fake Data laugh? heh heh heh heh heh heh heh heh heh heh heh

BSPINER80 karma

Yes, but only when John DeLancey whispers funny things in my ear.

Sandmanifest72 karma

Good evening Mr. Spiner! I'd like to say I really enjoy the work you do, your a great actor to watch.

Now, I have three two tough questions I would like to know:

  1. What is your favorite movie?
  2. What is your favorite peice of literature?

P.S. Fresh Hell has been HILARIOUS.

BSPINER191 karma

That's only two questions. But, thanks, glad you enjoy it! I like "The Searchers" best, if I have to pick one. Don't know what my favorite book is. But, my favorite food is soup.