Irish actor Colm Meaney was a mainstay of the legacy Star Trek shows. He played the role of Chief Miles O’Brien in both Star Trek: The Next Generation (TNG) and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (DS9). Meaney made his first appearance in the Star Trek universe in the very first episode of TNG, “Encounter at Farpoint.” His character was unnamed at the time, credited as “Battle Bridge Conn.”
He appeared in another season one episode as a security guard before becoming the “Transporter Chief” in season two. O’Brien wasn’t actually a named character until later in the second season, when he became a more regular fixture on the show.
The Evolution of O’Brien
Rick Berman, one of the showrunners for TNG and DS9 told the authors of The Fifty-Year Mission: The Next 25 Years, that Meaney was one of his all-time favorite actors. They’d cast him for a small role in the TNG pilot, but kept asking him to come back because he was such a “remarkable talent.” Eventually, he became a regular on the show, and Berman named the character after his own nephew. When Berman and the other producers started working on DS9, they knew they wanted a crossover character, and O’Brien was Berman’s top choice.
Ira Steven Behr, one of the showrunners and lead writers for DS9, also told the authors that he was excited to have the O’Brien character cross over to DS9. Behr said that Meaney didn’t really have much chance to show off his phenomenal acting skills in TNG, so he was pleased to write more interesting material for Meaney to work with.
Will Fans Ever see O’Brien Again?
Since the character and the actor were beloved by the Star Trek family inside and outside the studio, it would make sense for Meaney to reprise his role in one of the current or upcoming Star Trek shows. However, in a recent interview with CBR, Meaney said he wasn’t really interested in coming back to the Star Trek universe.
‘I’ve always kind of felt like seven years in space was long enough. I had a great time doing it. And sometimes, you’re always a bit loathe to go back, especially with something that you enjoyed and was successful because going back, sometimes things end up being ruined.”
However, Meaney didn’t completely shut down the possibility of reprising the role. He admitted that coming back to Star Trek was never “in the forefront of my mind,” but said that he was interested in what was happening with Star Trek: Picard. Meaney acknowledged that anything is possible, but made it sound like it’s not a role he’d actively pursue.
His Successful Career Outside the ‘Star Trek’ Universe
Perhaps one of the reasons Meaney doesn’t think about coming back to the Star Trek universe is because his schedule is already so packed. In 2020, Meaney had sizeable roles on two television series, “Gangs of London” and “The Singapore Grip.” He also landed roles in six movies, two of which debuted in 2020 and four of which are in post-production scheduled to release this year.
One of those films, “Pixie,” came out in the U.S. on March 5th, which has put Meaney back in the spotlight in the States. He plays a gangster, who just happens to be named O’Brien.
Though it doesn’t seem like Meaney has the time or interest to reprise his role as Chief O’Brien, as he said, anything could happen.