Houston Matters

Brent Spiner on learning to act in Houston and becoming Data

Spiner tells Houston Matters producer Michael Hagerty about growing up in Houston and discusses his new memoir of sorts, Fan Fiction.

Actor Brent Spiner
Actor Brent Spiner, who grew up in Houston, has a new memoir of sorts about his years playing Lt. Commander Data on Star Trek: The Next Generation.

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Actor Brent Spiner grew up in Houston and attended the University of Houston before embarking on a successful career in theater in New York, appearing in productions such as The Three Musketeers and Stephen Sondheim’s Sunday in the Park with George.

After moving to L.A., he had a litany of television roles, such as the recurring character Bob Wheeler on Night Court, and appearances in shows like Mama’s Family and Cheers.

But it was in 1987 that he first played the role for which he'll be forever known: the android Starfleet officer Lt. Commander Data on Star Trek: The Next Generation, a character he portrayed in seven seasons of that show, four feature films, and — most recently — in the 2020 series Star Trek: Picard.

Brent Spiner as Lt. Commander Data
Houston native Brent Spiner as Lt. Commander Data in Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Now, Spiner has a new book that's part memoir — but mostly noir fiction based on a version of himself — that illustrates to some degree just what it was like on set during The Next Generation's heyday. It's called Fan Fiction: A Mem-Noir Inspired by True Events.

In the audio above, he tells Houston Matters producer Michael Hagerty more about the book, about his life as Data, and about the new send-off the character received in Picard.

Also Spiner talks about learning to act in Houston under the tutelage of drama teacher Cecil Pickett both at Bellaire High School and later at UH.

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Michael Hagerty

Michael Hagerty

Senior Producer, Houston Matters

Michael Hagerty is the senior producer for Houston Matters. He's spent more than 20 years in public radio and television and dabbled in minor league baseball, spending four seasons as the public address announcer for the Reno Aces, the Triple-A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

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