While more than twenty years have passed in the world of Star Trek: Picard since the last time we saw Data and Deanna, each of the characters will be seen in different ways in the new show: with the android’s death in Star Trek: Nemesis, it required a great deal of visual effects work to make the 70-year-old Spiner look like his 2002-era self.
But according to the man himself, that digital “de-aging” work almost didn’t happen as planned.
SPINER: Well, the powers that be, when I met with them, I said, “How am I going to play Data again?” And they said, well, that CGI has come a long way, and that they could make me look really good. [I ended up] in the same makeup [and wore the] same contacts…
So, the first day on set, I put on the makeup and everything, and think, “Oh, this is okay!” Then I get this phone call – “It’s just too expensive. We can’t do the CGI. It’s just too expensive.” And I went, “Wait a minute, you know, I was told…”
After a discussion, I said, “Well, you understand I don’t have to be CGI’d back to what I looked like on the series, it has to look like how I looked at the end of ‘Nemesis.’” And they went, “Oh, sure, that’s right! No problem! We’re gonna do it.”
And they did. It has changed a bit, though, from some trailers that came out early –
SIRTIS: You looked awful.
SPINER: Yeah, it didn’t look good. But they’ve repaired all that since. They just hadn’t finished yet.
A 1987 costuming test for Troi’s black-eyed Betazoid look.
When it comes to Deanna Troi, however, the former Enterprise counselor has aged along with the actor portraying her — but Sirtis still requires some much-needed accessories to complete her half-Betazoid look.
SIRTIS: I got the call, and then I didn’t hear anything [about Troi’s contact lenses]. So I called and said, “You do know that I wore a wig and black contact lenses?” I told them, “I think I stole them [from ‘Nemesis’], so I think I have them.” So we got the contact lenses cleaned – since they’ve been sitting in a case for like 15 years – and I have the wig, [both] that I wore in ‘Nemesis.’
And it was really good that I did, trust me! They wouldn’t have had time to make a $10,000 wig, and I was in England doing a play anyway; I wrapped [the play] on a Saturday and was at Universal [in Hollywood] on Monday, having traveled from England on Sunday.
So it was lucky that I did pilfer them!
Troi’s wig — and contacts — used in ‘Star Trek: Nemesis’ return. How’s that for continuity?
While we will see Data in a number of dream sequences — thanks to several glimpses of the android in the Star Trek: Picard trailers — we don’t expect a trip to the home of Deanna Troi until a few episodes into the year, based on comments made around filming schedules over the last few months.
But rest assured, we’re looking forward to seeing Counselor Troi once more offer her sage advise to her former Enterprise captain.
This interview has been condensed and lightly edited for clarity.