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Star Trek veteran Colm Meaney found one aspect of O’Brien “wearying”

Star Trek legend Colm Meaney, who helped define the franchise through The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine, found one part of playing Chief O'Brien tiring.

Colm Meaney as Chief Miles O'Brien in Star Trek

When you go through the list of Star Trek‘s great actors, it doesn’t take too long before you get to Colm Meaney. Across Star Trek TNG and later DS9, Colm Meaney starred as one of the best Star Trek characters in the franchise’s history: Miles O’Brien.

Meaney joined the Star Trek The Next Generation cast in the series’ very first episode, and would continue to appear throughout TNG in a supporting role. Gradually, O’Brien was given more screen time and as the writers fleshed him out he eventually would become a solid fan-favorite. Meaney then made the jump to the spin-off Star Trek series DS9, this time with O’Brien as a primary character.

His appearance across the two shows means that Meaney has the distinction of being the Star Trek actor with the second most credits, only behind Michael Dorn. So, Meaney spent a lot of time in O’Brien’s company, and there’s one aspect of the character that Meaney did eventually find tiresome.

Speaking with IGN about DS9, and its impact, Meaney was asked how he felt about O’Brien’s portrayal as a more down-to-earth, regular, ‘blue collar’ character. “I was very aware of it. It was always hammered home, to a wearying extent sometimes, the whole ‘blue collar’ thing.”

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He continued, “And you know, I was fine with it. It wasn’t a problem. That is who he was. But I just found it a bit odd the way people went on about it so much sometimes. There were obviously all levels and echelons in an organization like Starfleet. But yeah, I was very conscious of that, and the writers were conscious of it, and the fans were conscious of it: he was, you know, an everyday Joe.”

Throughout TNG and DS9, O’Brien’s relative simplicity was a core aspect of his character, as was his relatable and rocky domestic life. The fact that he enjoyed spending his free time in Quark’s bar drinking with his friends and that his relationship with Keiko was never perfect helped to make him more relatable; not necessarily flawed, but human in a way that some other Star Trek characters might not have been.

Colm Meaney as Chief Miles O'Brien in Star Trek TNG

This, though, was contrasted with his immense competence and capability. He was one of the most able and shrewd engineers in Starfleet, and after the events of the Dominion War O’Brien became a professor of engineering at Starfleet Academy. So, though Meaney might have found the focus on O’Brien’s relatability to be tiring, it certainly never defined O’Brien. He was always more complex than that, which is what made him one of the greatest characters in the franchise’s history.

Unlike the rest of the TNG cast, Meaney did not reprise his role as O’Brien in the recent Picard season 3. But, he has said he’d be interested in taking part in a new Star Trek series focussed on Worf. Surely, no one could say no to that. Both TNG and DS9 are now available to stream on Paramount Plus, if you want to revisit Meaney’s O’Brien in all his glory.

For more on Star Trek, check out our thoughts on the best way to watch the Star Trek movies in order, and see our breakdown of the Star Trek timeline. You can also learn about the TNG episode Jonathan Frakes wants banned, before checking out what’s new on Paramount Plus, and seeing our picks for the best TV series of all time (spoilers: both TNG and DS9 are on there).