Although his character was designed to be an emotionless machine, "Star Trek: The Next Generation" really gave Brent Spiner the chance to spread his wings as an actor, playing bad guys, smart guys, old guys, good guys and everything in between.
But beginning Monday, he'll have a new role as a priest with an artifact agenda when he takes on the role of Brother Adrian in Season 4 of Syfy's hit show "Warehouse 13."
While many science-fiction fans recognize Spiner as Lt. Cmdr. Data, "Warehouse 13" showrunner Jack Kenny said he first saw him perform in a far different venue -- on stage as one of America's Founding Fathers.
"I love Brent Spiner, [but] I don't have the same relationship" with him as TNG fans do, Kenny recently told Airlock Alpha and other reporters at San Diego Comic-Con. "I saw him as John Adams in '1776' on Broadway. We knew that we were creating this role of Brother Adrian that would be a nemesis for Artie."
Luckily for Kenny, Saul Rubinek -- who plays Artie -- is close friends with Spiner dating back to their joint appearance in "Star Trek: The Next Generation" in 1990. When Kenny broached the idea of bringing Spiner in to play the Big Bad, Rubinek was ecstatic.
"Oh my God, that would be a dream come true," Kenny remembers Rubinek exclaiming.
Spiner becomes just the latest Star Trek alum to join the show. He follows in the footsteps of others, most noticeably Kate Mulgrew and Jeri Ryan from "Star Trek: Voyager" -- something that has not escaped star Eddie McClintock.
"Kate Mulgrew, a starship captain, is my mom," McClintock told reporters at Comic-Con. "Jeri Ryan, 7 of 9, is my ex-wife. I told her I always thought of you as 9 of 9 or 10 of 9. And I'm always asking Jack, 'Do Pete and his ex-wife get to make out in this episode?'"
There have been other Star Trek actors in the past as well, including Faran Tahir, who played Capt. Robau in the 2009 "Star Trek" film from J.J. Abrams. And thanks to the writer's strike a few years back, Kenny almost had another famous Trek face come on -- Nichelle Nichols, who had to pass from appearing in the second season because of her schedule.
Yet, the inclusion of so many Star Trek actors is not on purpose, Kenny said.
"There is a certain amount of the Star Trek repertory company that every sci-fi show goes to," he said. "I'm sure if Leonard Nimoy was available, we would have him on the show."
The third season finale created both laughs and tears, and unfortunately, that won't end just because there's a new season, Kenny said. In fact, the first two episodes coming back will create an emotional roller coaster for fans.
"I think it's the most exciting season yet," Kenny said. "Having established this family and have them really care about each other, it's great to love, and it's great to have a family. But what happens when danger steps in? What happens when something awful happens in your family? How does a family deal with mortality? With loss? With fear?"
"Warehouse 13" returns July 23 with the debut of Spiner and the return of most of the Warehouse 13 staff -- at least the survivors from the from explosive Season 3 ending. And this episode, Kenny said, is like "National Treasure" meeting Indiana Jones, "and not 'Crystal Skull,'" he said jokingly. "The good ones."
The toughest moments emotionally will come near the end of the half season (this season is being split into two 10-episode parts, with the second half coming next year).
"Episodes 9 and 10, they are the most powerful moments we've ever done," Kenny said. "And it's just our gang, but the way they have to deal with it all is real powerful."
McClintock might get to the end of a season where it seems impossible to crawl out of, but he never worries.
"It's always definitely a question at the end of every season, 'How are we going to top that?'" he said. "Where are we going to go from here? I trust Jack Kenny, our executive producer, and the writers. They have never let us down, and so I'm always shocked at how clever it is in the end."
While McClintock's Pete Lattimer might stay the nice, cool, innocent young boy at Christmas all the time, his partner, Myka Bering, is always growing. That's one of the things her portrayer, Joanne Kelly, likes the most about the show.
"This character has been such a journey for me," Kelly said. "I haven't done a long-running TV show like this. When you do a film or a play, you know the end, and this one you don't. The character has gone on a journey, and each year she gets a little looser.
"I think you see a real journey, a real path. This is what happens when people don't have a good family structure and then finds an adoptive family, people that you can trust. And you can see her develop into this woman."
"Warehouse 13" premieres its fourth season July 23 at 9 p.m. ET on Syfy.
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