(written from a Production point of view)
Colm J. Meaney (Irish: Colm Ó Maonaigh) (born 30 May 1953; age 62) is the Irish actor best recognized by Star Trek fans for his portrayal of Chief Miles O'Brien on both Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine from 1987 through 1999. He also played Albert Macklin in the acclaimed episode "Far Beyond the Stars".
On TNG, he appeared in 52 episodes. Across both series, he appeared in 211 episodes, second only to Michael Dorn in total number of appearances in the franchise. He is the only actor to have appeared in the pilots and final episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
Born in Dublin, Meaney began studying acting at the age of fourteen. Upon completion of secondary school, he honed his skills at the Irish National Theatre's Abbey Theatre School of Acting before joining the company as a professional actor. After spending eight years touring throughout England as part of various acting companies, he made his television debut on the British television series Z Cars in 1978. He continued acting in various European productions, generally from the United Kingdom, but after training at the Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts (PCPA) he moved to New York in the mid-1980s to try his hand in Hollywood. He has since launched not only a successful TV career, but has become a highly recognized figure in feature film as well.
Meaney married Irish actress Bairbre Dowling in 1977. He and his wife appeared together in a few projects throughout the years, but ultimately divorced in 1994. Dowling herself became an alumna of Star Trek, guest-starring in VOY: "Spirit Folk" in 2000.
At present, Meaney lives in his native Dublin where he continues to star in films made in Ireland and the UK. He does, however, make an occasional trip to America to make guest appearances on TV shows.
Meaney's first experience on American television was a 1986 episode of Moonlighting. The following year, he had a brief role in the western TV movie Kenny Rogers as The Gambler, Part III: The Legend Continues, in which his future Deep Space Nine co-stars Marc Alaimo and Ann Gillespie also appeared, as did fellow Trek performers Jeff Allin, Michael Berryman, Tony Plana, Jimmie F. Skaggs, and Dean Stockwell. He also appeared on Remington Steele and Tales from the Darkside that same year.
Also in 1987, Meaney made his American film debut in the action drama Omega Syndrome, which was followed later that year with a role in John Huston's critically-acclaimed, Oscar-nominated drama The Dead. Meaney's wife at the time, Bairbre Dowling, also appeared in this film. In addition, Meaney was given the role of Patrick London (replacing actor Stephen Meadows) on the soap opera One Life to Live during the 1987-88 TV season.
It was also in 1987 that Meaney first played a nameless conn officer on Gene Roddenberry's new Star Trek series entitled The Next Generation. This officer ultimately became the transporter chief of the Galaxy-class starship USS Enterprise-D and as the series progressed, he was given a full name: Miles Edward O'Brien.
Besides his recurring appearances on Next Generation, Meaney continued popping up on other shows as well. In 1990, he was seen in an episode of Father Dowling Mysteries with Fionnula Flanagan. The following year, he appeared in an episode of MacGyver with Time Winters, and in 1993, he appeared on Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. After becoming a regular on Deep Space Nine, however, Meaney's guest appearances on other programs came to a halt; in fact, the only episodic TV work he did between 1993 and 1999 when DS9 was in production was to lend his voice to a 1996 episode of Disney's Gargoyles. By doing this, however, he became one of the many Star Trek veterans to lend their voices to this series, joining a list which includes his TNG co-stars Jonathan Frakes, Marina Sirtis, Brent Spiner, Michael Dorn, and LeVar Burton, his DS9 co-star Avery Brooks, TOS actress Nichelle Nichols, and others such as John Rhys-Davies, David Warner, and Paul Winfield.
In 1994, Meaney took leave from Deep Space Nine to appear in the mini-series Scarlett, a sequel to the classic film Gone with the Wind. Stephen Collins, Bob Minor, and Paul Winfield also had roles in this series, as did Meaney's then-wife, Bairbre Dowling. Lastly, in 1999, Meaney and his TNG co-star Whoopi Goldberg starred in the TV movie The Magical Legend of the Leprechauns.
It was in 1990 when Meaney's film career really took off. In 1990 alone, he appeared in two major hits, Dick Tracy and Die Hard 2. In Dick Tracy, he and TOS guest star Ed McCready played a pair of cops at a restaurant. However, they were actually only two of many Star Trek actors to appear in Dick Tracy, with the others being Hamilton Camp, Seymour Cassel, Tony Epper, Michael J. Pollard, Bert Remsen, John Schuck, Paul Sorvino, and Ian Wolfe. In Die Hard 2, Meaney played an unfortunate airplane pilot, while Robert Costanzo and Ben Lemon, with William Sadler as the film's secondary lead, the villainous Colonel Stuart who crashes the plane captained by Meaney's character.
Later that year, Meaney and Becky Ann Baker played Gerry and Merge McGurn in the acclaimed war drama Come See the Paradise, which marked the first of several teamings with director Alan Parker. In 1992, he appeared in four major films: Mike Newell's Into the West, Ron Howard's Far and Away (co-starring Barbara Babcock, Clint Howard, and Anthony De Longis), Michael Mann's The Last of the Mohicans opposite Maurice Roëves, and Andrew Davis's action thriller Under Siege (with Bernie Casey and Glenn Morshower) in which he played a terrorist who assists in the takeover of a battleship.
Meaney's film credits continued to add up. In 1994, he and wife Bairbre Dowling played a mother and father in the drama War of the Buttons. The same year, Meaney played a doctor of a strange health facility in Alan Parker's comedy The Road to Wellville (co-starring Roy Brocksmith). In 1995, Meaney had a supporting role as "Morgan the Goat" in the British comedy The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain. And in 1997, he co-starred with James Cromwell in the family drama Owd Bob and had a memorable turn as DEA Agent Malloy in the blockbuster action-thriller Con Air.
Further proving his versatility, in 1998 he played an Irish gangster in Monument Ave., co-starring Famke Janssen, and a gay friend in October 22, in which he appeared with Star Trek: Insurrection actress Donna Murphy. Other notable film credits during this period include Claire Dolan, This Is My Father (both 1998), and the hockey comedy Mystery, Alaska (1999, also featuring Michael McKean), in which he played the over-stressed mayor of the small Alaskan town of the title.
Outside of Star Trek, Meaney's best-known roles may be those he played in The Barrytown Trilogy, a trio of films in the 1990s based on the novels of Roddy Doyle. In the first, 1991's The Commitments (directed by Alan Parker), Meaney had a supporting role as the father of Jimmy Rabbitte, the manager of the titular music band. For the next two films, 1993's The Snapper and 1996's The Van (both directed by Stephen Frears), Meaney was the lead actor, receiving top billing. These films helped garner Meaney the on-screen reputation as the quintessential Irish "da" (father), while his performance in The Snapper earned him a Golden Globe nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture (Comedy/Musical). Meaney is the only actor to have appeared in all three of the Barrytown films.
With production on Deep Space Nine finished, the majority of Meaney's work after the turn of the century has been in films from Great Britain or his native Ireland, although he continued making appearances in Hollywood productions as well.
In 2002, Meaney filmed a pilot for a CBS series entitled R.U.S.H., but it did not sell and the series was never made. Later that year, he worked with his TNG co-star Patrick Stewart in Stewart's adaptation of Shakespeare's King Lear entitled King of Texas.
Meaney later had a recurring role as Cowen in the Sci-Fi Channel series Stargate: Atlantis, appearing in two episodes in 2004 and one in early 2006. In 2005, he guest-starred as a judge in a two-part episode of Law & Order: Criminal Intent; coincidentally this character suffered from the same torn rotator cuff that Miles O'Brien suffered from.
In 2008, Meaney starred in the original pilot for the American version of the British television series Life on Mars. Meaney played gruff 1970s homicide detective Gene Hunt, who clashes with the main character, a detective who was somehow transported back in time from the 2000s. Although the series was picked up by ABC for airing in Fall 2008, Meaney's pilot was scrapped and re-shot with actor Harvey Keitel replacing Meaney in the role of Hunt.   The series was canceled after one season.
Recently, Meaney voiced the character Tom O'Flanagan, an Irish tavern owner who sells his bar to Homer and Abraham Simpson, in the episode "In the Name of the Grandfather" of The Simpsons.  He also guest-starred on the now-defunct medical drama Mercy, appearing in an episode with Star Trek: Voyager star Kate Mulgrew. Meaney was most recently seen playing the King of Hearts in the mini-series Alice, based on Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland books. Matt Frewer plays the White Knight in this mini-series.
Meaney played the title role of the 2001 Irish drama How Harry Became a Tree, which earned him an award from the Irish Film and Television Awards (IFTA) for Best Actor in a Feature Film. He also had a role in the 2001 direct-to-video release of Backflash (co-starring Mike Starr and Michael J. Pollard).
He went on to play a couple of tough Irish characters in two highly-acclaimed films. In the 2003 Irish drama Intermission (set in Meaney's hometown of Dublin), he played Jerry Lynch, a hard-boiled detective with a fondness for mythical Celtic music who wants the public to know about his fight against street criminals. And in the 2004 British crime thriller Layer Cake, he worked alongside Star Trek Nemesis actor Tom Hardy in the role of Gene, a drug trafficker and the loyal right-hand man of a drug lord who has a passion for guns.
Meaney's other film credits include The Boys & Girl from County Clare (2003), Blueberry (aka Renegade; 2004), and Battle of the Brave (2004). More recent films include The Metrosexual, Clean Break and Three and Out. Another recent film, the Irish drama Kings, was selected by Ireland as a contender for the Best Foreign Language Film award at the 80th Annual Academy Awards, although it was not picked as one of the final nominees.
Meaney's next film role was soccer coach Don Revie in The Damned United, a British biopic about Revie's rival coach Brian Clough. He then had a supporting role in the 2009 action thriller Law Abiding Citizen Gregory Itzin and Bruce McGill had roles in this film, as well. Meaney's most recent film was the 2010 comedy Get Him to the Greek, a follow-up to the 2008 film Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Meaney's next role is as Union General David Hunter in the American Civil War drama The Conspirator. Hunter was the United States Army officer who led the commission into the assassination of Abraham Lincoln by John Wilkes Booth. The film pairs Meaney with fellow TNG actor Stephen Root.
In 2011, Meaney starred in the Irish independent film "Parked", as Fred Daly.
In 2007, Meaney appeared on Broadway in the Old Vic's production of Eugene O'Neill's A Moon for the Misbegotten, co-starring Kevin Spacey. The production, which previewed in late March and early April of 2007 and opened on 9 April 2007, played at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre. The play ended its run on 10 June 2007.
Appearances as O'Brien
- "Encounter at Farpoint" (Season One, credit as "Battle Bridge Conn")
- "Lonely Among Us" (credit as "First Security Guard")
- "The Child" (Season Two)
- "Where Silence Has Lease"
- "Loud As A Whisper"
- "Unnatural Selection"
- "A Matter Of Honor"
- "The Measure Of A Man"
- "The Dauphin"
- "The Royale"
- "Time Squared"
- "The Icarus Factor"
- "Pen Pals"
- "Q Who"
- "Up The Long Ladder"
- "The Emissary"
- "Shades of Gray"
- "The Ensigns of Command" (Season Three)
- "The Bonding"
- "Booby Trap"
- "The Enemy"
- "The Price" (voice only)
- "The Hunted"
- "A Matter of Perspective"
- "Tin Man"
- "Hollow Pursuits"
- "The Most Toys"
- "The Best of Both Worlds"
- "The Best of Both Worlds, Part II" (Season Four)
- "Remember Me"
- "Data's Day"
- "The Wounded"
- "Night Terrors"
- "Half a Life"
- "The Mind's Eye"
- "In Theory"
- "Redemption II" (Season Five)
- "The Game"
- "Power Play"
- "Realm of Fear" (Season Six)
- "All Good Things..." (Season Seven)
- DS9: (Colm Meaney appeared in all episodes of DS9 as Miles O'Brien except the ones listed below)
- "The Passenger"
- "Move Along Home"
- "Necessary Evil"
- "Blood Oath"
- "Second Skin"
- "Through the Looking Glass" (only as Miles O'Brien (mirror))
- "Let He Who Is Without Sin..."
- "Things Past"
- "Far Beyond the Stars" (only as Albert Macklin)
- "In the Pale Moonlight"
- "The Reckoning"
- "Profit and Lace"
- "The Emperor's New Cloak" (only as Miles O'Brien (mirror))
|Star Trek: Deep Space Nine regular cast|
|Rene Auberjonois • Avery Brooks • Nicole de Boer • Michael Dorn • Terry Farrell • Cirroc Lofton • Colm Meaney • Armin Shimerman • Alexander Siddig • Nana Visitor|
Star Trek interviews
- TNG Season 7 DVD special feature "The Making of "All Good Things..." Year Seven" ("Familiar Faces"), interviewed on 30 March 1994
- DS9 Season 1 DVD special feature "Section 31-Hidden File 02" (interview from 18 September 1992)
- DS9 Season 1 DVD special feature "Deep Space Nine Scrapbook Year One" (interview from 18 September 1992)