Catching Up With Brent Spiner, Part 2
Brent Spiner, in part one of our exclusive interview, previewed his upcoming episode of Big Bang Theory – which airs Thursday at 8/7c on CBS – and started to look back at his long stint playing Data on Star Trek: The Next Generation and in the TNG features. Today, in part two of the conversation, Spiner talks more about Star Trek and also discusses his popular Web series, Fresh Hell.
You returned to Star Trek one last time for a handful of episodes of Enterprise. How did that experience rate?
Spiner: That was fun. It was a nice bunch of people and it was a lot of the crew I was used to working with. LeVar (Burton) directed one of the episodes. It was a blast. And I knew Scott (Bakula) from before, so that was fun.
Of all of the products that bear Data’s image, what’s the one that still makes you go, “What? Really?” or that’s so cool even you’re impressed?
Spiner: I’ve got a bunch of boxes with stuff in them. Sheldon would love them, I’m sure, if he was a real person. I don’t know. You know what? There’s one that hasn’t come out yet, but it’s going to. The Original Series had it done for them, and now we’ve been sent our likenesses to approve. We’re about to become Pez heads. To me, that’s… I’ve really made it, being a head on a Pez dispenser.
You continue to make the occasional Star Trek convention appearance. What’s the kick, after all these years, you still get from doing the cons?
Spiner: It’s fun, and it keeps you out there. It keeps the fans interested in you if there’s an opportunity to have an up-close and personal experience. And I get to see a lot of the people I used to work with.
How did Fresh Hell come about?
Spiner: I had the idea for a long time and, obviously, I’d love to be doing it on television, but nobody is offering me my own series right now. I did a project with a guy named Chris Ellis, who’s a director, quite by accident. We wound up having lunch and I ran this by him. He thought it was a really fun idea and he said, “Let me talk to a friend of mine who’s a writer, Harry Hannigan. I think he’s the perfect guy to write something like this.” So we got together and started talking story and ideas and things like that. Harry wrote it, we shot it and we thought, “Let’s just throw it up on the Web and see if anybody’s interested in it.” Fortunately, we got enough feedback on it to want to do more. We’ve got about 200,000 hits on it right now, and so we are doing some more of them.
How much fun are you having poking fun at Hollywood and also at yourself?
Spiner: Lots of fun. It’s great on all sorts of levels. People ask me, “Why are you doing a Web series?” Aside from the obvious, which is that the networks aren’t exactly banging the door down, the other obvious answer is, “Why not?” Everyone I mention it to says, “Well, that’s the future.” In my mind, actually, it’s not the future. It’s now. So it’s really fun on all sorts of levels. One, we don’t have any censorship. We don’t have anyone saying, “You can’t say that” or “You can’t do that.” We’re not going to get canceled unless we decide to cancel ourselves. And, probably the most fun aspect is how interactive it is with a large audience. We get immediate feedback from all over the world. It’s not like we put it on for 13 weeks or whatever and see if we can get a sale to another country. It’s all over the world as soon as you post it.
How many have you done so far and how many more are on the way?
Spiner: We’ve done five that are posted on the site and we’re shooting another 10 right now. Then, once we’re done, we’ll have about an hour and a half’s worth or so. The next ones are the further adventures of Brent Spiner, desperate Brent Spiner, trying to work his way back into the fraternity he’s been kicked out of, meaning show business and the world.
Will we ever get the official definition of “Pulling a Spiner”?
Spiner: Well, where the “incident,” as we call it is concerned, we know what it is, but in my mind it doesn’t really matter what it is. The “incident” is sort of the MacGuffin, as Hitchcock would say. It is that thing that everybody wants to know what it is, but it really doesn’t matter what it is. In our case, it’s that thing that I did wrong. There are many, many examples right now, almost weekly, of people doing things or saying things that might get them in trouble. Every week, somebody does or says something that infuriates the public and either ends their career or makes them more interesting on some other kind of level, like Charlie Sheen.
What else have you been working on lately?
Spiner: I did an episode of Alphas for Syfy, which was also a really good experience, working with David Strathairn and the wonderful bunch of people up there. It’s a really interesting show. I tried to talk them out of killing my character because I really thought he should come back, but they killed me anyway. Maybe I’ll come back again, as myself. I have a few other things in the fire. I’ve got a club act that I’ve been working on, that I’m waiting to spring on people. I haven’t found the courage yet to do that, but I will at some point. It’s interesting, because I don’t have an agent or a manager anymore. So I’m sort of freelancing like a baseball player. I’m finding that interesting and I’m finding, oddly, a large amount of stuff coming my way on my own.
To read part one of our interview with Brent Spiner, click HERE. To visit Spiner’s official site, click HERE, and to check out Fresh Hell, go to Youtube and plug in “Brent Spiner, Fresh Hell.”