Data No Longer Being Yellow Helped Convince Brent Spiner To Return For Star Trek: Picard

Brent Spiner said a big reason why he was willing to return to play Data again in Star Trek: Picard was because he wouldn't have to spend hours in makeup being turned yellow.

By Chris Snellgrove | Updated

Star Trek: Picard has had a hit third season, in large part because it has been a major reunion for the cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation. It’s been amazing to see the return of everyone from Riker to Worf, but fans were truly shocked to see Brent Spiner return as the android Data, both because his character had been killed and the actor said he’d never return to that role. But in a recent interview with TrekMovie, Spiner revealed that one of the reasons he returned to playing Data is that “it was more appealing to me knowing that I wasn’t going to be spending hours and hours and hours in makeup, and even worse, hours getting it off.”

He is referring, of course, to Data’s pale yellow skin that he has had since the first episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. While Brent Spiner doesn’t have to wear the forehead loaf that more exotic characters like the Klingon Worf have to wear, many of his offscreen hours are spent either putting the makeup on or taking the makeup off. Conveniently, the third season of Star Trek: Picard effectively brings Data back in a different body that looks as old as Spiner himself and has a more human appearance (just like that, no more yellow skin for the actor to worry about).

brent spiner

However, as Brent Spiner notes in the interview, he’s still spending extra time getting ready for his scenes because he still has Data’s yellow eyes. Back on Star Trek: The Next Generation, the striking gold color of his eyes always stood out against the paler yellow skin, and if someone turned on the TV and watched an episode for the first time, they’d instantly know Data wasn’t human. But the eyes became such an iconic part of the character (like William Shatner, Brent Spiner recorded music on the side, and even recorded an album titled Ol’ Yellow Eyes Is Back) that Picard showrunner Terry Matalas kept them for this final season.

While it was an easy guess that Brent Spiner himself didn’t want to pile on all that makeup again, it’s also worth noting that his new look is perfectly in line with his character’s arc from Star Trek: The Next Generation. Data, like Spock before him, was intended to be a reflection of humanity, but unlike that famous Vulcan, Data always wanted to be more human. His natural-looking skin helps with that, and even his added gray hair is in line with the character adding gray to his hair to look more distinguished in the alternate future we saw in “All Good Things,” the final episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

We already saw Data die in Star Trek: Nemesis and then again in the first season of Star Trek: Picard, and it seems likely that this version of Data, like Picard himself, will be definitively retired after this reunion season is over. But Brent Spiner has already played many different characters across different shows, with all of them being related in some way to Data’s creator, Noonien Soong. And at this point, if Paramount announced a new spinoff series where every character was played by either Brent Spiner or Jeffrey Combs, we doubt many fans would complain.

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