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Star Trek: The Next Generation - Why Age Was A Concern For Brent Spiner While Playing Data

With the constant influx of immortal characters popularized in television, we as a society have collectively agreed to ignore the aging issue. Paul Wesley and Ian Somerhalder aged for eight years on "The Vampire Diaries," while Kate Beckinsale continues to impress in the "Underworld" series. But when Brent Spiner first took on the role of the android Data in "Star Trek: The Next Generation," he held himself to a higher standard. In 1987, there had not been a lot of opportunity to portray an ageless being for an extended period. Spiner became concerned that if the series continued, his aging would become too apparent.

"I was 38 when I started playing Data," Spiner recalled in an interview with StarTrek.com. "So it occurred to me, 'How long is this going to last?' I looked pretty young for my age at the time, but I thought, 'If I was 10 years younger, I could play this for 30 years.' But I wasn't. I was pushing 40. I thought, 'How long am I going to look acceptably young to keep playing this part?' Fortunately, it lasted as long as it did." Spiner portrayed Data in the sci-fi series seven seasons, not to mention the number of feature films he appeared in as the android. Age definitively was not a problem for the actor, even three decades later when he reprised the role.

Aging was a nonissue in Picard

Being an android in a futuristic world opens the door to almost infinite possibilities. Though Brent Spiner was apprehensive about playing an ageless being at one point, "Star Trek" has afforded him many opportunities to get around that technicality. "Star Trek: Picard" was one such instance where Spiner could not only play an aging Data but a collection of different characters. After dying for the second time in "Picard" Season 1, Data returns as an age-appropriate version of the character in Season 3. Though he has many attributes of the original character, there are some additional differences.

"It is a new character in a sense," Spiner told Inverse. "But also, I think what we're saying is that we are our memories. Obviously, we all have memories of things we love. But also of things that we don't love. Of sad things. Of horrible things. Data is all of that now." Spiner's reappearance isn't just the same Data we have come to know over the past three decades. Instead, he is a hybrid of different characters over the years, including Data, Lore, and Lal. This body was purposefully built to look older as an aesthetic choice to represent wisdom. With this body, Data is one step closer to achieving the humanity he has always dreamed of at the end of "Star Trek: Picard."