Even without the glossy makeup and yellow contact lenses of his Lt. Cmdr. Data character, it's hard to know the real Brent Spiner.
"It's not a concern of mine that the fans know who I am because the me that I am, even at conventions or doing interviews or whatever, is not really me anyway," he said last week from his Paramount Studios trailer in Los Angeles.His hair, for example, is dyed regularly to maintain the continuity of his anemic-looking android character on "Star Trek: The Next Generation." He's even amused that the folks at "Entertainment Tonight" give the wrong age when it's his birthday.
"If you look at ("Entertainment Tonight"), they'll say 37 . . . I don't know where they got the number, but it's fine with me," he said.
Age is such a sensitive issue with Spiner that he argued the insignificance of his real age - which he doesn't like talking about - during the interview.
"I've had the benefit of being in this makeup and people trying to guess what I look like, how old I am, all that kind of stuff."
And even when he's out of character, Spiner said, he feels obligated to be a character with the press and the public.
"I just think there's a pressure always whether you're doing an interview or a talk show situation or on a stage doing a convention to be at least entertaining. And I'm not sure that Brent at home alone is a very entertaining person."
Unquestionably, the suave, bespectacled Spiner delighted a crowd of about 1,000 enthusiastic Vulkon 92 conventioneers and fans who gathered last weekend at the Altamonte Springs Hilton Inn to hear him speak and answer questions.
"I'm going to answer your questions as honestly as I can, but sometimes I'll be lying," he joked, before taking their questions. "But there are two areas I'd like to stay away from: `Star Trek' and my personal life."
Dressed in black and bearing striking features not unlike those of his television character, Spiner told the crowd about the 75-minute makeup process he goes through at 5:45 a.m. each day of shooting the nationally syndicated program.
"And then Patrick (Stewart, who plays Capt. Jean-Luc Picard on the show) comes in and runs a dry mop over his head."
He described the constant cutting-up the actors do every day on the set as "one long improv that's only interrupted by having to do scenes for the show. The best part of this job is that we go to work every day and have fun."
Spiner, deluged by camera flashes and rounds of applause, wouldn't offer much insight on the coming two-part season cliffhanger of "Next Generation."
"I think it's really going to be one of the best shows we've done. And it features one of my favorite characters - Data."