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I was sure that Brent Spiner said he wouldn't reprise his role as Data, after Nemesis...and digging around I found this answer to a question 10 years ago, that quotes an interview:

when Spiner was asked if he thought Data could come back he said:

I don’t think that could happen. Look at me. I am a shockingly older gentleman. I don’t see that I could wear that makeup anymore. I think that would look really stupid. I love the character and I wish I started it much younger, but I was already in my mid sixties when I started [joke]. I just don’t think I could get away with it. Yeah they could CGI it, but why not just CGI the whole character and forget about me.

So what convinced him to come back, and not just let the producers 'CGI the whole character'?

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  • The TV Guide article I just read about season 3 said he'll be playing Lore, not Data.
    – Barmar
    Commented Dec 30, 2022 at 15:07
  • Are you comparing a single film to a fresh TV series? Aren't the effort and resources needed and the support available wholly different? Commented Dec 30, 2022 at 23:06
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    It's a bit weird how they wrote in that Data was old-looking in the TNG finale when they didn't have to, but Spiner thought it would be a problem to write that in when they did have an out-of-universe reason to do it. Commented Dec 31, 2022 at 23:37

2 Answers 2

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In this interview it seems like Brent thought the CGI used for de-aging was 'very convincing' and that it's 'gone a long way':

"Obviously, I was reluctant to do it again because I'm a bit long in the tooth and I just didn't know if it could be believable, as far as believing an android," Spiner tells ComicBook.com. "But they were very convincing and, you know, CGI's gone a long way since the days when I was saying I was never going to do this again."

I presume that means he thought the alternative of replacing him entirely was less convincing, or at least he was persuaded against it.

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    Not to mention that he wouldn't get paid if they used a completely CGI character
    – GordonD
    Commented Dec 30, 2022 at 12:10
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    To be fair there wasn't much Data... Spiner had other screen presence with no CGI... (which I imagine would also be a fairly good incentive to return and even if putting up with CGI for a bit meant that (whether or not he truly believe it's better)...) Commented Dec 30, 2022 at 12:48
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    Related: here's a photo of Brent as Data before the de-aging process facebook.com/Trekcore/photos/a.261907473822047/3075843255761774 Commented Dec 31, 2022 at 20:55
  • @GordonD That's incorrect actually. If they use his likeness (ie: his face) he gets paid. After Crispin Glover's face was used without his permission in BTTF2 he sued and got the legal precedent set down.
    – Necoras
    Commented Jan 1, 2023 at 22:43
  • @Necoras Good point, I'd forgotten that. Though I believe it was actual footage of Crispin Glover, not CGI.
    – GordonD
    Commented Jan 3, 2023 at 9:25
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They can CGI Data, Lore, or even B-4 but would be able to use him for motion tracking and voice just as he done for video games. They did this for Terminator movies for portraying the younger looking T-800 (Arnold's terminator) as he appeared in the early Terminator movies. They likewise can use CGI for those Soong-type androids and let Brent voice act. I think he also wanted to play other characters like the many Soongs, which suggests possible cloning. Then you have Lore, who likewise portray a different character personality and that Brent may have been kind of tired of playing specifically, Data.

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    Hi, welcome to SF&F. The question is really about what specifically convinced Spiner to return to the role, and while this does provide some background it doesn't answer the question the same way the direct quote in the previous answer does.
    – DavidW
    Commented Jan 1, 2023 at 15:54

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