Several actors from the 1996 mega-hit Independence Day are back for its upcoming sequel, Independence Day: Resurgence, including Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman, Judd Hirsch, and Vivica A. Fox. But no one’s return is as bewildering as Brent Spiner’s (Star Trek: The Next Generation), who played Dr. Brakish Okun.
The Area 51 scientist was last seen begging for release from a hostile extraterrestrial who didn’t take so kindly to, you know, Okun and company performing an autopsy on him while apparently still alive. Let’s review the tape:
The last shot of Okun (not included in the video above) shows the motionless character being picked up by Major Mitchell (Adam Baldwin), who then checks Okun’s pulse. It’s not definitive, but after the beating and strangling and alien-exorcism and whatnot, audiences could be forgiven for assuming the doctor was dead as a doornail.
“It is the resurgence of Dr. Okun, that is why they call this movie Resurgence, that is the whole idea,” Spiner joked to Yahoo Movies last week at CinemaCon, where he was joined by his co-star (and jazzmaster) Goldblum shortly after Fox’s presentation of the film in front of movie theater exhibitors.
But seriously, how is Okun still alive? It’s simple, Spiner argued, he never died. “People jumped to that. They always jump to 'You must be dead’ if you’re laying on the ground. But they’re wrong.” Goldblum agreed, then pointed to their surroundings in Caesar’s Palace: “Yeah how many people do you see laying on the ground just passing through the casino? And so few of them are dead,” he cracked.
“I’m back, I’m alive, I couldn’t be happier,” Spiner said. “I hope everyone else is, but no one more than me.”
Goldblum and Spiner at CinemaCon (Getty Images)
During an interview on the New Mexico set, the actor revealed to Collider that they had originally recorded a line in the first film where Mitchell says, “He’s dead,” after checking the vitals. But director Roland Emmerich didn’t use the bit, keeping open the possibility of returning Spiner for a sequel before officially casting him last April.
Spiner is less frustrated by the fact that everyone thought Okun was dead than by one of the scene’s plot points. “He put his fingers on my neck [to feel the pulse],” Spiner said. “And I would say, 'Why did he even do that? He wasn’t a doctor. He was a military guy!’”
To which Goldblum replied: “Everybody does that. They see it in the movies.”
Movies like Independence Day.
Independence Day: Resurgence opens June 24. Watch the trailer: