The for­mer Data talks to us about his role in the up­com­ing In­de­pen­dence Day: Resur­gence.

brent Spiner’s back to save the planet in in­de­pen­dence day: resur­gence. Nick Setch­field digs his cos­mic groove, man

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No, they don’t at­tach elec­trodes to me,” says Brent Spiner, mirac­u­lously res­ur­rected as Dr Brack­ish Okun, acid-fried brain-box of Area 51. “And no one cries, ‘It’s ali­i­ive!’” Best known as Data, the an­droid in­no­cent of Star Trek: The

Next Gen­er­a­tion, Spiner’s mak­ing an un­ex­pected encore in his other geek friendly fran­chise as Earth pre­pares for se­que­li­cious dev­as­ta­tion in In­de­pen­dence Day: Resur­gence. Sorry, alien scum: seems the long-haired loon’s as un­kil­l­able as the hippy dream…

Ev­ery­body as­sumed Okun was dead at the end of the first film. Was that your take too? Did you feel like you were play­ing a death scene back then?

I wasn’t re­ally sure. I’ll tell you the truth – Adam Bald­win played the mil­i­tary guy who came to see how I was do­ing. He had the line “He’s dead.” Be­fore the film was re­leased they de­cided to cut that line be­cause they might one day do a se­quel and they would like to have me back. So I’m ly­ing there with my eyes open. And there’s no telling what one goes through when one’s been in­hab­ited by an alien, so who’s to say if I’m dead or alive, right? So in­deed I am alive, and prob­a­bly no one is more pleased about that than I am. How does it feel to go back to a char­ac­ter af­ter 20 years? Do you have a mus­cle mem­ory of how you played him?

I had to watch the film to re­mem­ber what I did but it all came back re­ally quickly. I also feel re­ally grate­ful to be do­ing a char­ac­ter that I did 20 years ago. I feel like I’m in a club with Har­ri­son and Car­rie and Mark and Sch­warzeneg­ger. Maybe we should all have din­ner one night. Or maybe you could do a sci-fi Ex­pend­ables.

Oh, that would be in­ter­est­ing. I love that idea! I’m writ­ing that down. And you will not get credit for it [laughs]... Did you like what you did 20 years ago, when you went back to watch it?

Did I like what I did? I think that’s an un­der­state­ment. I loved what I did [laughs]! There are very few char­ac­ters you have li­cence to take to a place where there is no top. Most of the time we like to come from a place of truth and un­der­state­ment but this char­ac­ter re­ally al­lowed me to go full out. Twenty years ago I had just come out of Star Trek, play­ing a very con­tained char­ac­ter. So it al­lowed me to break loose and that was re­ally fun. I’ve been very con­tained for the last 20 years so once again I get to break loose. It just builds up in­side you, does it? In 20-year cy­cles?

Ex­actly. And it ex­plodes on the screen! Has he changed in 20 years?

I have changed. The char­ac­ter has not. He was al­ready stuck in time in the first film. This was a guy who had gone to Berke­ley and dropped a lot of acid. Maybe too much. He’s still this long-haired hippy from the ’60s. Was he in­spired by any­body?

It came out of my­self, re­ally, be­cause I went to col­lege in the ’60s. I didn’t do that many drugs to that de­gree but if I had that’s who I would be. How hippy were you?

Oh, I was a hippy. I had long hair. But ev­ery­one did. This is a fran­chise that’s been res­ur­rected af­ter 20 years. We’ve also seen the re­turn of Star Wars and Jurassic Park. Do you think it’s healthy for our cul­ture to keep re­vis­it­ing th­ese things?

I’m not sure whether it is or it isn’t. I’m cer­tainly not smart enough to de­ter­mine that. I think there’s value in it if peo­ple en­joy it and are en­ter­tained by it. Ob­vi­ously now there’s been a shift where tele­vi­sion is where the se­ri­ous work is be­ing done, for the most part, and fea­tures are for the masses, for en­ter­tain­ment. And I think that’s fine. I think the more suc­cess­ful films in this genre are the ones where the au­di­ence can iden­tify with the char­ac­ters be­cause ul­ti­mately spe­cial ef­fects are only so sat­is­fy­ing – you have to con­nect with the char­ac­ters. Those are the fran­chises that keep go­ing. There’s a new Star Trek show com­ing in 2017. What does it need to do to work in the 21st cen­tury?

I just think it needs to be there [laughs]. And just be en­ter­tain­ing. All any­one wants from their en­ter­tain­ment is to be en­ter­tained by it. And I think there’s a good chance it’ll work. There’s a re­ally great bunch of peo­ple at­tached to that project, re­ally tal­ented peo­ple. I have no doubt that’s go­ing to be a re­ally huge suc­cess. Shat­ner said it was strange to see Chris Pine play­ing Kirk. Do you think you would feel pro­pri­eto­rial if they ever re­cast Data?

I don’t think I’ll get pro­pri­eto­rial about it. I’d like to see Tilda Swin­ton play Data. Don’t you think that’d be cool?

In­de­pen­dence Day: Resur­gence opens on 23 June.

Get­ting peaced with di­rec­tor Roland Em­merich.

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