Brent Spiner VS Capt. Feral Phoenix
Brent Spiner, you have been captured and taken into cyber-custody by the Feral Army. Anything you do say may be taken down in evidence, and used to educate feral-kind. Do you accept these terms? (He did)
Bronwen: Right. I’m going to start with my trademark question; I put this question to everybody. So Brent, what do you know? Tell me one thing.
Brent: I know how to tie a bow tie without looking in a mirror.
Bronwen: You’re hosting the “It Won’t Stay In Vegas” party and Android Lounge at CES (in Las Vegas) on January 8th. This is partly because – and I think this is fair to say – for a lot of people, when they think of the word ‘Android’, they think of Data. You’ve also been hailed on their website (www.itwontstayinvegas.com) as a “leader in the social media space” – what do you think of that?
Brent: I’d rather not think about it. I don’t even know what a social media space is.
Bronwen: You know, this event sounds just perfect for Feral Army. We should really have a Feral representative going along, but unfortunately I can’t afford the expense and we don’t have enough US ferals yet. Will you represent the ferals?
Brent: Uh, no. I’ll be representing me. I don’t know if that will be believable but I’ll do the best I can.
Bronwen: Of course, you’ve also got over a million followers on Twitter. So, let’s talk about Twitter for a second. What I especially love about your Twitter page is your ‘favourites’ section, because you have all the meanest, funniest tweets directed at you on there. I’d like to say I think you’ve got the right idea – especially in light of the whole Stephen Fry story (blown out of proportion by the media) – about not taking it too seriously.
Brent: I do take it seriously. Whenever I read those “favorites”, it hurts me so deeply, I want to end my life. Or maybe just quit Twitter. Or maybe watch some television.
Bronwen: My question is, have you ever actually been offended by anything someone has said to you on Twitter?
Brent: Actually, I’m deeply offended by your question.
Bronwen: There’s also a lot of love for you on Twitter, don’t you think?
Brent: Yes, there is a lot of love on Twitter. It’s very nice. It really doesn’t compare to anything I’ve ever known. Except perhaps, the love of my Mother.
Bronwen: Do you like all the attention?
Brent: I don’t know whether I like it or don’t like it. Do I really have to decide? Can’t I just go on pretending it’s absolutely normal?
Bronwen: If you want to carry on kidding yourself, then that’s fine by me. What got you started on Twitter, and in retrospect, are you glad you joined?
Brent: Someone I know signed me up without my permission. In retrospect, I’ll let you know how I feel about it one day when I’m a little more retrospective.
Bronwen: You may or may not know, but every Friday is Feral Friday on Twitter. We’d be very grateful if you could tweet at least one #FeralFriday. Will you think about it?
Brent: Nah. I don’t really want to tweet anything about this feral business. I get in enough trouble on my own without having your enemies, too.
Bronwen: I’ve been looking at some past interviews (for research purposes) and some of the latest ones surprise me a bit, because the interviewers seem to be almost scared of mentioning some of your earlier work. They say things like ‘I won’t say it but it rhymes with car wreck’ and I’m wondering why they do this. Do they get warned by your agent before you get there not to mention anything to do with – well, in particular – Star Trek?
Brent: No. I don’t think so. I don’t mind talking about Star Trek. Why would I? It’s nothing to be ashamed of. Is it?
Bronwen: No, not at all. I don’t see why they’d do that, because your acting was – and probably still is – a big part of your life and why not talk about it. Going back to the Android thing, I think in Star Trek: The Next Generation, watching it back, it’s hard to ignore the strength of your acting in the role of Data. Actually, I’d like to talk about Star Trek for a moment.
Brent: If you don’t mind, I’d rather not talk about Star Trek.
Bronwen: Tough. So, let’s talk your portrayal of Data. But I’m not going to talk about your favourite episode – I’m actually going to talk about one of my favourite episodes, ‘The Most Toys’. Brace yourself, because this one is quite specific.
Firstly, do you remember ‘The Most Toys’? Do you know which episode I’m on about? Data gets kidnapped by a collector of rare and expensive things and a series of events lead him to almost shoot his kidnapper (Vaggio, Fajo… something like that), killing him in a slow and painful way, with what I believe is a ‘Proto-type Varon-T Disruptor’. — Editor’s note: pronounced ‘Veyron-T’ – which I personally think would make a lovely brand name alternative to ‘Tetley’ (maybe for Bugatti Veyron fans?).
Okay, so the reason I love ‘The Most Toys’, is firstly because of your acting – it wouldn’t be quite as strong an episode without that – but also because of the way it develops Data’s character, by how he deals with the situations that arise.
The two parts that stick out for me the most is firstly – and this leads me to my first question – when Data appears to fire the weapon at the annoying brat man (the kidnapper), does he actually fire?
I’m not sure if you remember, but the transporter kicks in and they notice the weapon has been discharged, so they disarm it and Data hands it to Riker. And when questioned, he looks confused and explains to Riker by saying, “perhaps something occurred in transport”.
I like the way this is handled, because it raises a few questions. Since you’re the actor, what do you think, did Data lie? It’s not exactly a lie, is it? It’s a subtle lie, if anything. Is he protecting himself? Did he actually intend to kill the kidnapper?
Brent: I remember the episode, but not as well as you do. I haven’t a clue what you’re talking about. Do you really want me to analyze the actions of a character I played in an episode about 16 or 17 years ago?
Brent: I’d have to watch it again. Actually, I never saw that one. I only watched the first twenty or so. I don’t remember why Data did anything he did. I think he did what he did and said what he said because the writer’s said that’s what he should say or do.
Bronwen: Also, I love the ending, where he says he doesn’t take pleasure in the fact that all the kidnapper’s toys have been taken away, and says he’s ‘just an Android’ and walks out. I just like the way the whole episode was done. Do you remember much about the filming of that episode and if so, what do you remember?
Brent: What I do remember about that episode is that another actor was originally playing the role of the villain. We shot Thursday and Friday and over the weekend the actor killed himself. So we started over and my friend, Saul Rubinek came in and took over the role. He was fantastic in it as he is in everything he does.
Bronwen: You see, I didn’t know that!! I’m glad we did this. I heard that the costumes in the first series caused some of the male actors back problems, is that true? Did that affect you in any way?
Brent: Not really. I already had back problems before we began. I think the suits somewhat corrected my problems. Then, when we changed to a more comfortable suit, my back problems came back.
Bronwen: I also have a question from one of our ferals. What were your communicators made out of? Metal or plastic?
Brent: That’s not only a stupid question, it’s pointless. Who really cares, besides your comrade? Metal… plastic… paper mache… so interesting.
Bronwen: Okay, moving on from your role in Star Trek: you’ve been described as a ‘character actor’ before, is that how you’d describe yourself? And do you think that’s relevant?
Brent: Let’s be honest, there’s nothing really relevant about any of this. But, sure, I’d call myself a character actor.
Bronwen: Is that what you wanted to be known for mainly, ‘character-acting’? If not, then what? I mean, when you first started out, before the whole Star Trek thing; because you’ve also been quite involved (to a degree) in Broadway.
Brent: I never really thought about being known for anything. I just enjoy doing it. And it’s an extra added bonus if I get paid to do it or I get to work with interesting people.
Bronwen: Of course, you also sing, and I thoroughly enjoyed your latest CD, ‘Dreamland’ (there’s actually a review on my personal website/blog) which is available to order via your website www.therealbrentspiner.com. Do you plan on releasing anything else like that, another CD, perhaps?
Brent: I don’t know. I really enjoyed doing “Dreamland.” But, I don’t have any plans to do another. It’s possible, I guess. If my voice holds out for a few more years.
Bronwen: In terms of your voice/style of singing, who would you compare yourself to?
Brent: Well not just my voice, but really everything about me…Steve McQueen. Don’t you think?
Bronwen: Actually, no. I watched The Great Escape the other day, and I did not think of you once during that movie. Is there anyone out there (dead or alive) that you wish you could sound like?
Brent: There are a lot of great singers I wish I sounded as good as. Sinatra, obviously. Bing Crosby in his hey day. Roy Orbison. Elvis. Maude Maggart.
Bronwen: I hear you’re now rehearsing some kind of act, can you tell us a little bit about that? What kind of thing is it? When do you think it will be ready?
Brent: Yeah, I’m doing sort of a nightclub act. Or a concert. Or something. I’m not sure what it is really. Should be ready soon. Can’t tell you too much about it yet. But look for it in your local supermarket.
Bronwen: What else are you doing at the moment? Anything you can tell us ferals about?
Brent: I have a few things in the fire, but I don’t really want to share them with the feral’s . They frighten me. In fact, you frighten me.
Bronwen: Thanks a lot. Do you have a message for the Feral Nation?
Brent: Yes, leave me alone.
Bronwen: Thank you, Brent. It’s been a feral joy. All for one and one feral! You old sod…