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    Interview: Egocentric? Writer... err, Actor Brent Spiner On the Truth Behind Data's Personal NEMESIS and the Future of TNG!

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    Typhon Station is a very fastpaced PBeM RPG with skilled, experienced players and a warm sense of bonding and community. We play at the turn-of-the-century, 2400, and are located in the Typhon Expanses, bordering the Neutral Zone, proximate to the Romulan Empire, and near the Iconian Digs, and are on the first warning route of the original Borg Incursion.
    We have three stations to post from, SB 185, USS Odyssey, and USS Wraith. They all have general and particular storylines and all interact. This game is not for the faint of heart! The writing is superb and comes hot and heavy. We have some open spots and also we will consider character suggestions. So, longtime RPGers and novices, check us out. See if you want to make Typhon Station your home away from home.

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    Typhon Station is a very fastpaced PBeM RPG with skilled, experienced players and a warm sense of bonding and community. We play at the turn-of-the-century, 2400, and are located in the Typhon Expanses, bordering the Neutral Zone, proximate to the Romulan Empire, and near the Iconian Digs, and are on the first warning route of the original Borg Incursion.
    We have three stations to post from, SB 185, USS Odyssey, and USS Wraith. They all have general and particular storylines and all interact. This game is not for the faint of heart! The writing is superb and comes hot and heavy. We have some open spots and also we will consider character suggestions. So, longtime RPGers and novices, check us out. See if you want to make Typhon Station your home away from home.

    (0 comments | Add)

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    Posted: 00:38:06 on December 10 2002
    By: Steve Krutzler
    Dept: TrekWeb Features

    Written by Steve Krutzler

    This article contains spoilers for the finale of STAR TREK NEMESIS, which have been placed at the end and can only be viewed when highlighted with your mouse.

    ”So, what did you think of my movie,” jests the comedic Brent Spiner, poking fun at the egocentrism of playing not only Lieutenant Commander Data and another Doctor Soong prototype in the new STAR TREK NEMESIS, but co-writing the story as well. “Next time I’m going to play Picard!”

    Jokes aside, the aging actor dons gold make up for what could be his last stint as STAR TREK’s Pinocchio, a character who over time developed a distinctiveness from the Spock role he filled on ST:TNG. Writing the story with screenwriter John Logan meant a lot of responsibility, not just to the film, but to this beloved character.

    “In a sense this stuff was written with a sort of finality to the whole thing,” he told TrekWeb. “The movie’s about family and about change and about the end of this family as they have existed for fifteen years—what the next one would be is anybody’s guess at this point.”

    Picard and Data have typically carried the most weight in the three previous NEXT GENERATION pics and NEMESIS is no exception. While the captain comes face to face with his younger clone, Spiner’s Data discovers he had another brother, a prototype aptly named B-4.

    Brent Spiner as Lt. Cmdr. Data one more time “Dr. Soong’s family is a big family,” Spiner can’t hold back the laughter. “I’ve played Dr. Soong at three different ages through the series and Lore, we now find out, is his middle son because we never even knew about B-4. I play the three sons and the only one I didn’t play was the mother! Well, I tried… they cast someone else!” Data’s android mother was played gallantly by Fionnula Flanagan in the 1993 TNG episode “Inheritance.”

    But Spiner says working with his favorite actor was the least of the reasons for the Data/B-4 subplot in NEMESIS, which adds to the central theme of the picture.

    “We did want parallel stories going on,” he explains about the creative process. “We started with Picard’s story but we wanted a parallel story with Data [so] that they reflect on each other and that was a sort of the jumping off point. We wanted a story about family because we thought this might be the last one—again it’s all about economics; if this film makes money then we’ll be back again and if it doesn’t, then you’ve seen the last of us—so we wanted a movie that had to do with family. And the whole movie has to do with family, I think. The big question in the movie is nature/nurture and it’s just a musing on that but I think, for us, the overall [theme] is about family. You’ve got Picard and his clone and this—whatever he is, himself, his son, and whatever he becomes in that; Data and his brother and this family of STAR TREK that is all moving off in different directions and changing; and the Remans and Romulans, who are family of another kind, so there are a lot of layers of that going on.”

    He may look like Data—or his evil brother Lore—but the B-4 is an immensely different character. Spiner says he looked to Data’s own history on the show as a model for his double duty.

    Double dose of Spiner “When I thought about the character, about how to play it, when we were writing it—I never really thought about it until the screenplay was written—which of course John wrote himself, we just wrote the story—but when I got the screenplay I thought, ‘ok…now I’m an actor and I have to figure out how to play this guy,’” he recalls. “And I thought [about] ‘Encounter At Farpoint’ (the TNG pilot, --ed.) and how Data was in the very beginning and I thought, ‘you know what, this guy’s not even that’. He’s way less sophisticated, he’s ten steps before what we met Data as.”

    Acting as two androids may have been integral to the story, but performing under the yellow make-up is another story. The character actor says he welcomed the opportunity to develop an all new pseudo-Data, and much of that came in the writing phase.

    "You’ve got time—in seven years we did 178 episodes—so you’ve got time to develop characters, but obviously with these films we come with that intact,” Spiner says. “B-4 is a new character; it would’ve been nice to see a couple of more scenes with him to kind of know him a little better. But then again, when we were working on the story I kept saying to John, ‘you know, where B-4 is concerned, less is more.’ We kept paring down his dialogue and what he said because, I kept stressing, he shouldn’t be capable enough to do too much because he is really a very unsophisticated prototype.”

    As with all the characters in NEMESIS, Data and B-4 could not escape the chopping block when the studio needed the film to clock in less than two hours. One entire additional scene sought to further the characterization of this new android, but unfortunately, Spiner says, it didn’t make the cut.

    “We lost a scene that I enjoyed doing… it was the most difficult thing we did in the whole film, [which] was a motion control scene with Data and B-4,” he reveals. “It was a whole pantomime sequence with Data teaching B-4, sort of, little behavioral things. We walked into a lounge together, said hello to people, sat down at a table, showed [B-4] how to use a knife and fork. It was a really fun sequence that worked like gangbusters. They would watch the playback of it and the whole crew would laugh every time and I thought, ‘this scene is going to work so well,’ and it’s not in the movie!”

    Missing gem? Will we ever see this wonderfully written scene? Another scene that has been talked about furiously by everyone from Patrick Stewart to John Logan, Spiner also felt deserved to make the final cut.

    “There was a scene that Patrick and I did that was a really nice scene that was after the wedding where Data goes to Picard’s quarters and they talk about friendship, really, and the nature of ‘if I were to leave, I would miss you, etc.’ And it kind of echoed the end of the movie and it was a really nice scene. But they really felt when they were cutting the movie that we needed to get on with the story, so we’ve unfortunately lost that.”

    Spiner was something of John Logan’s “go to guy” during the writing phase, Logan crediting the actor with devising one particular twist in the middle of the movie. Spiner came up with it while lounging beside his pool.

    “That was just the Scorpion inside the ship,” he says, referencing a scene glimpsed in the film’s trailer. “John called and said, ‘how do we get off Shinzon’s ship?’ And I said, ‘well, why don’t they fly a ship through the ship’ and he went ‘I love you!’ We wrote that scene by the way and it was five minutes long. We brought it into Rick, and Rick said, ‘this is great; great scene; this is like a five minute scene. That’s our entire special effects budget in this scene, so when you see this, it’s going to be 30-seconds.’ He was right!”

    Data considers the future The final moments of NEMESIS bear a twist many fans might not expect. Spiner quips, “You know what? The fans have already read the movie, they know what’s going to happen!” (Just in case you don’t, the remainder of this article will require highlighting with your mouse in order to read).

    So much of NEMESIS focuses on the linearity of time and the toll it’s taking on the TNG family. Much like STAR TREK II, NEMESIS deals a serious blow to that family, possibly forever.

    “I didn’t really suggest it, it just sort of evolved out of the plot, it just took us there when we were writing the story,” Spiner says when asked if he devised the death of Data from the beginning. “The captain went over to the ship; he was trapped over there; Data had to go over and bring him back, and when he got there only one could come back. So we decided it was going to be one or the other and we thought it was best if it were Data. Both for the whole arc of his character from the beginning to this point, and for the story.”

    The fatal moment occurs when a prototype Starfleet transporter can only bring one back to the Enterprise; but why just one? “You know what? This was a prototype. They didn’t know this was going to happen—they didn’t know they were going to need two,” Spiner exclaims heartily, hoping that’ll be enough for the audience to suspend its disbelief.

    Not a happy android But the end of NEMESIS is, surprisingly, positive. Rather than wait for the next film to resurrect Data, the B-4 still exists and due to a memory dump from Data earlier in the picture, the possibility of Data’s continuance is meant to uplift the denouement. But Spiner says it wasn’t just a cheap way to kill Data without really killing him.

    “We looked at it as just hopeful, the movie would end on a moment of hope,” he says about the convenient twist. “I’m hopeful that we sell enough tickets and they want to see us again and then we’ll solve that problem… I think what you’re asking is if we come back again is there a risk in now playing that character, which is so much less than Data? It depends on when we come back (if we come back) because how much will B-4 be evolved by the time we see him again? What we are left with is that Data’s programming that has been downloaded into [B-4] is starting to kick in. He’s starting to get little pieces of that programming... By the time we see him again, will he be Data? I don’t know.”

    But is there a danger that the audience, which is immensely familiar with this sort of dramatic trickery, won’t buy the death of Data because B-4 lives on? Spiner maintains that any future portrayal would have to be different and not cheapen the death by easily resurrecting Data through the memories B-4 possesses at the end of the film.

    “I have no idea what people are going to think! I didn’t think about it because I mean, Spock died and came back… if I promise not to come back, will that make it better?” He laughs. “It is STAR TREK and there are ways but they have to be really good ways. I’m thinking if Data came back in any form other than an evolved B-4, it would have to be something like dreams or something because I don’t think we can really cheapen it by just going, ‘oh they found a cell in space and they rebuilt [him as he was]…’”

    “He could never be Data. He will be B-4 with Data’s memory. It’s anybody’s guess whether we’ll ever do it again. If we do, will I be playing B-4 or will I be playing Data?”

    That, it would appear, nobody knows.

    © 2002 TrekWeb.com. All Rights Reserved.


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    TREKWEB TALKBACK
    (5 comments)

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    Dead Data
    By Nighthawk (nighthawk@gbronline.com) at 04:43:27 on December 16 2002
    URL: | User Info
    Just FYI Data isn't dead. He was beamed out by the Romulans just before the ship exploded. No one knows because the ships sensors were down, so they have him.
    I mean that’s my theory anyway. Besides if you can bring back Spock. Data should be easy. He could come back as a deadly enemy once reprogrammed by the Romulans.
    With all his knowledge about the Federation and being a friend you don’t want to kill.
    Maybe if there’s another release we’ll find out.

    Robert V. Criss A.K.A. Nighthawk

    [ Reply to This | Parent Comment ]

    Why ?
    By cooper2000 () at 18:07:14 on December 10 2002
    URL: | User Info
    Is Data always getting more screen time than say, Beverly or Riker?
    He was amusing on the show but that was 15 years ago.
    I am guessing the only way Spiner agreed to do another movie is if he got to help write the movie and give himself a real Big juicy part with not just one role, but Two.

    [ Reply to This | Parent Comment ]

    • RE: Why ? by Steve Krutzler @ 18:22:06 EDT on 10 Dec
    One word to sum up this interview...
    By BWilliams (BWillNCC1701E@webtv.net) at 12:39:18 on December 10 2002
    URL: | User Info
    "Remember."

    [ Reply to This | Parent Comment ]

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