Now that the first season of Star Trek: Picard is good and wrapped, longtime Trek actor Brent Spiner says that he is done playing Data. If you didn’t watch the new show, Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) spent it trying to help Data’s daughters — Soji and Dahj, played by Isa Briones — find their home as they were being hunted by the Romulan secret police. Spiner showed up as both Doctor Altan Inigo Soong, the man on whom Data was based, and Data himself, appearing in Picard’s mind.
But as far as Data goes, Spiner tells TV Guide that he’s come to a natural conclusion with that character. “I mean, there was just a finite amount of time that I can actually play Data, no matter what anyone says,” he said. “So many people were like, ‘Oh, you can do it. You’re not too old,’ and then I do it and they go, ‘You’re too old. Why’d you do it?'”
In the final episode of season 1, Picard succumbed to a terminal illness, and when he opened his eyes, he was in a simulation with Data. The two said their final farewells, and Data asked Picard to let him die.
Once Picard woke up inside his new android body, he unplugged the simulator, finally allowing Data to completely die years after he sacrificed his body in the movie Star Trek: Nemesis. Spiner said he was happy with how his much-beloved character went out. “I think we did it in such brief sequences that it was fine to do it, and I felt good about it,” he said. “But I wouldn’t really entertain the idea of doing it again because I just don’t think it would be realistic.”
"So it seemed right to me to give him this more gentle sendoff, and it seemed right to me in the context of the entire season of Picard and what Picard himself had been experiencing because of the loss of Data. I think it allows him to feel okay about it too. So it seemed like the right thing to do."
However, Spiner is up for returning as Doctor Soong, who created the synth homeworld with Greg Maddox so the two could continue to creating life-like androids after the Federation-wide ban on making new Synths. In the finale, he mapped out Picard’s brain, which allowed the former captain of the Enterprise to live on in an android’s body.
“I love working with all of the people on the show,” Spiner said. “The new cast is fantastic. Obviously, to still be working with Patrick is a dream. Now there’s a character that could conceivably go on and continue, so of course I’d love to.”
Spiner could reprise the role in season 2, acting as Picard’s guide to his new existence, should the story take them in that direction.
Now that Data has officially died for good in Star Trek canon, Spiner has a message for fans of the character. “I’m very appreciative,” he said. “I’m constantly astounded at how personal it is to them and that the loss of Data was so personal. I didn’t realize it would be like that. I appreciate that, and I appreciate them continuing on the Star Trek ride that’s being offered to them now.”
You can stream all 10 episodes of Star Trek: Picard season 1 on CBS All Access. And for a while, anyway, it’s free to watch with a gift code!