Colm Meaney: How He Quietly Became Star Trek’s Most Successful Actor

Colm Meaney was a Star Trek fan-favorite but has been one of the most consistent actors in Hollywood.

By Rick Gonzales | Published

Colm Meaney

How does one measure success in Hollywood? By bank account? Longevity? The number of projects? No doubt in Hollywood, it’s the color green. Though for some actors, just staying busy and working for decades is the true goal. Take, for instance, Colm Meaney. He’s an actor’s actor. Solid and dependable. His range isn’t vast, but what he does, he does very well. It’s how he went from that guy on Star Trek to one of the most successful working actors in Hollywood.


Irish-born Colm Meaney has been doing it for a long time. You may not know his name when you see him on the screen, but you definitely know the face. With a career that is beginning to hit six decades, chances are you’ve seen him. Fans of Star Trek definitely know the guy.

Colm Meaney
Colm Meaney on Moonlighting

Born in Dublin, Ireland, Colm Meaney got his start in the ‘70s though it was brief. His first major work came in 1981 when he appeared in the Irish TV series Les roses de Dublin. Much of his early career revolved around Irish/English productions.

TV shows Moonlighting and Remington Steele were a couple of his first entries into the American side of acting. While he was pulling off guest-starring roles in these two shows, he was also performing in another show that would eventually lead to his breakout role.


Star Trek DS9

In 1987, Colm Meaney took a bit role in the pilot episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. It was work, nothing big looked to be coming from it as he wasn’t even given a name, only the title Battle Bridge Conn.

The producers must have seen something from Meaney that they liked because over the next year and a half, he was brought back four more times.

Colm Meaney on Star Trek
Colm Meaney as Battle Bridge Conn

Instead of Battle Bridge Conn, he was given the title of Transporter Chief. Finally, his role became a recurring one, which meant he needed an official name: Chief Miles O’Brien. A Star Trek legend was born.

From that point on, until 1992, Meaney played a recurring role on Star Trek: The Next Generation, showing up one more time on the show in 1994.

Miles Chief
Colm Meaney as Chief Miles O’Brien

Before that final appearance, Colm Meaney crossed over to the TNG spin-off, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Not only was he a regular on DS9, he appeared in all seven seasons, each and every episode. In fact, only one other person has appeared in more Star Trek franchise episodes than Colm Meaney and that is actor Michael Dorn (Worf).

Not bad for someone whose character wasn’t even an integral part of Star Trek to begin with.


Colm Meaney

It’s hard to say if Colm Meaney’s role as Chief O’Brien was his actual launching pad or not. He was getting a lot of work beforehand even if they weren’t huge roles. Suffice it to say that once his part on Star Trek: The Next Generation expanded, Hollywood’s take on Meaney also expanded.

He was pulling down parts in feature films such as The Road to Wellville, The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain, Con Air, This is My Father, and October 22.

When Deep Space Nine ended in 1999, Colm Meaney’s career continued strong. He did, though, seem to be finding roles where he portrayed the same type character. The prick. As in his Con Air role, he played the “same guy” in Mystery, Alaska. Not that anyone was complaining. It’s a role Meaney does very well.

Colm Meaney
Colm Meaney in Get Him To The Greek

Hollywood continued to smile upon Colm Meaney while he bounced from TV series to TV movie to feature films. The Murdoch Mysteries, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Stargate: Atlantis, and The Unit all included Colm Meaney. He also saw time in features such as Five Fingers, The Metrosexual, The Race, Law Abiding Citizen, Get Him to the Greek, and The Perfect Stranger.


Hell on Wheels

After his success with the Star Trek franchise, Meaney found himself starring on the set of another successful TV series. This one was the western Hell On Wheels that lasted five seasons.

The series starred Anson Mount (who now plays Captain Christopher Pike on Star Trek: Discovery as well as the upcoming Star Trek: Strange New Worlds) and Christopher Heyerdahl, with whom Meaney was reunited from their time together on Stargate: Atlantis.

Christopher Heyerdahl enjoyed the entire five seasons run on the hit show. It was on AMC and followed the story around how the first transcontinental railroad was built across the United States in the 19th century. In general, the show received positive reviews and Meaney saw himself nominated for lower-level awards in his part as Thomas ” Doc” Durant.


Colm Meaney now

Colm Meaney married his second wife, French costume designer Ines Glorian, in 2007. They have a 17-year-old daughter together and live in the obscure small town of Soller. Where is Soller? On the island nation of Mallorca, located in the Mediterranean. Good luck stalking him there, Star Trek fans.

Meaney and Glorian also have a home in Los Angeles but of it he says, “My missus doesn’t like Los Angeles… She’s French. So the house there is always empty.”

Now 69 years old, his career as a working and much sought-after actor continues. Colm Meaney was seen on the TV show Will, about a young William Shakespeare’s arrival in London. He was also seen in Seberg, The Last Right, and most recently on the series Gangs of London.

Colm Meaney even made an appearance in It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia when the Gang when to Ireland. The episodes were appropriately-titled “The Gang Goes To Ireland” and “The Gang Is Still In Ireland”. Meaney played Charlie’s penpal, a cheesemonger who the latter originally thought was his father. It played out hilariously.