Star Trek: Picard finally kicks off this week, marking the return of Patrick Stewart’s Jean-Luc Picard for the first time in 18 years. A lot has been made of how and why the iconic British actor decided to make his comeback to the franchise after all this time, but we haven’t heard too much from his Next Generation co-stars who are also stepping back into the fray alongside Stewart for the show. What convinced Brent Spiner, for instance, to reprise his own beloved character of Data?
Speaking with ComicBook.com, Spiner revealed that he once thought he’d never play the part again, due to the passing years making it unbelievable to him that he could be playing an android. However, as well as the producers managing to talk him around with the story they had planned, Spiner was sold on a comeback as Data given the spot-on de-aging tech that can be achieved nowadays.
“Obviously, I was reluctant to do it again because I’m a bit long in the tooth and I just didn’t know if it could be believable, as far as believing an android. But they were very convincing and, you know, CGI’s gone a long way since the days when I was saying I was never going to do this again.”
Spiner went on to recall how strange a moment it was when he filmed his first Picard/Data scene with Stewart in 20 years. Funnily enough, this was the very first shot filmed for the new series.
“Sitting across from Patrick, it was the first shot of the series,” he says. “And we looked at each other and just sort of went, ‘This is bizarre,’ because I see Patrick all the time and I wasn’t actually sitting across from Patrick, I was sitting across from Captain Picard, and he was looking at Data, and we hadn’t done that in a long time. So it was kind of special.”
The trailers have given us a glimpse of Spiner’s appearance as Data, and you can see how they’ve done a great job with the make-up and the CGI to get him looking closer to his appearance in 2002’s Star Trek: Nemesis. Speaking of Nemesis, Data’s death in that movie has been confirmed to have been permanent, making it all the more mysterious that Picard is seen speaking with his old friend in various different (dream?) sequences.
Star Trek: Picard airs its premiere episode on CBS All Access this Thursday, January 23rd.