Few actors on Star Trek: The Next Generation wore as many hats as Brent Spiner. Along with his iconic role of Data, Spiner also played the part of Data’s family members including his evil brother Lore and his father Dr. Noonien Soong. While Spiner had no problem filling in for these many characters throughout the series, he wasn’t always on board to be Data’s creator, Dr. Soong.
Mentioned in conversation throughout the series, Dr. Soong finally made his first on-camera appearance on the show in the Season 4 episode ‘Brothers.’ When they were casting for the episode Spiner made the light suggestion of having him take the part himself.
“I thought that would make so much sense — that I built these creatures in my own image and I'd be a God-like character,” Spiner tells in an interview with SyFy Wire about taking the role of Data’s creator.
He expressed his idea without knowing that the role had already been given to another actor, Keye Luke. The studio loved Spiner’s suggestion and had him take the part over Luke instead, which he immediately regretted.
"I panicked, I thought, 'Oh my God, how am I going to play this?' Because he was an old man, and I really didn't know what I was going to do,” exclaimed Spiner on receiving the role.
His worries were quickly washed away when he was brought into the makeup room for the series to put on Dr. Soong's ‘face.’
“Almost the day before we were going to shoot, Michael Westmore — one of the great makeup artists of all time — had designed makeup for Dr. Soong, and he said, 'Let me put it on you and make sure everything's right before we shoot tomorrow.' When he put it on me and I looked in the mirror, I knew exactly how to play the part. I owe him a lot, because I think we collaborated on that."
Spiner played the role 3 times throughout TNG’s run and even Arik Soong, Noonien Soong’s ancestor on Star Trek: Enterprise. Although he had his reservations on the role at first, we're grateful that he gave the opportunity a chance and eventually showed more of Dr. Soong's long family tree.
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