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Colm J. Meaney (Irish: Colm Ó Maonaigh) (born 30 May 1953; age 71) 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. 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.

Several costumes and components worn by Meaney were sold off on the It's A Wrap! sale and auction on eBay, including a pair of Starfleet boots [1] and a full senior chief petty officer uniform. [2]


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, which also featured Jeremy Kemp. 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.

On 20 February 2008, Meaney was honored by the US-Ireland Alliance with the "Oscar Wilde: Honoring the Irish" award at a pre-Academy Awards party in Los Angeles. [3] [4]


The 1980s[]

In the first half of the 1980s, Meaney appeared in the French miniseries Les roses de Dublin (1981) and episodes of British television series and movies such as Nailed (1981), Play for Tomorrow and Strangers (1982), Playboy of the Western World (1983, alongside his wife) and The Hidden Curriculum in 1984.

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 and as the series progressed, he was given a full name: Miles Edward O'Brien.

The 1990s[]


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. In 1993, he appeared on the pilot episode of Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman as barber "Jake Slicker", a role which later went to Jim Knobeloch for the rest of the series. 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, Star Trek: The Original Series 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 co-starred with his TNG castmate Whoopi Goldberg and Star Trek: Picard actress Orla Brady in the Hallmark Channel fantasy miniseries The Magical Legend of the Leprechauns.


It was in 1990 when Meaney's film career really took off. In 1990 alone, he appeared in three major hits, Dick Tracy , Die Hard 2 and Under Siege with Steven Seagal. 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 Come See the Paradise (1990, starring Tamlyn Tomita), which marked the first of several teamings with director Alan Parker. In 1992, he appeared in Into the West, Far and Away (co-starring Barbara Babcock, Clint Howard, and Anthony De Longis), The Last of the Mohicans (1992, with Maurice Roëves), and Under Siege (1992, 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 Con Air (1997).

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.

The 2000s[]

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's 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. [5][6] The series was canceled after one season.

In 2008, Meaney had a supporting role in the Canadian miniseries ZOS: Zone of Separation.

In 2009, 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. [7] He also guest-starred on Mercy, appearing in an episode with Kate Mulgrew. Meaney was then seen playing the King of Hearts in the mini-series Alice, based on Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland books. Matt Frewer played 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 Layer Cake (2004), 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), The Metrosexual (2007), Clean Break and Three and Out (2008). Another 2007 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. [8]

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.


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 2007 and opened on 9 April 2007, played at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre. The play ended its run on 10 June 2007.

The 2010s[]


Meaney appeared in the 2010 comedy Get Him to the Greek, a follow-up to the 2008 film Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Meaney's next role was as General David Hunter in the American Civil War drama The Conspirator, the United States Army officer who led the commission into the assassination of Abraham Lincoln by John Wilkes Booth. The film paired Meaney with fellow TNG actor Stephen Root.

In 2011, Meaney starred in the Irish independent film Parked, as Fred Daly, Alleged, the Spanish El perfecto desconocido, Whole Lotta Sole, and The Flight of the Swan. 2012 saw him performing in Bel Ami, The Cold Light of Day, Soldiers of Fortune (starring Christian Slater, with James Cromwell), and The Hot Potato.

Meaney starred with Steve Coogan in the 2013 Alan Partridge film Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa. That year he also appeared in One Chance, A Belfast Story, and the animated movie Free Birds; both George Takei and Robert Beltran also voiced roles in that movie.

Among his 2014 movies were The Yank and Where the Devil Hides.

In 2016, he starred as Northern Irish politician Martin McGuinness in The Journey. That year also saw Meaney appear in the animation film Norm of the North (including Salome Jens), Pelé: Birth of a Legend and The Secrets of Emily Blair. In 2017, he starred in the comedy Halal Daddy.

In 2019, he appeared in the J.R.R. Tolkien biopic Tolkien, Seberg (again with Stephen Root) and The Last Right.


Meaney starred in the AMC television series Hell on Wheels as Thomas Durant throughout the series' run between 2011 and 2016, opposite Anson Mount and alongside Virginia Madsen, Grainger Hines, and Gregg Henry.

In 2014, Meaney appeared in the Brtish miniseries The Driver and in 2015 in the Canadian TV movie A Dangerous Arrangement. The same year, he appeared in the miniseries Childhood's End, based on an Arthur C. Clarke novel.

In 2017 he appeared in all episodes of Will, a series about the young William Shakespeare.


In 2018, Meaney participated in Britain's Royal National Theatre's project "National Theatre Live", where theater productions are broadcast live to selected cinemas around the world. Meaney appeared as Big Daddy in Tennessee Williams's Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. The same year, he played a part in the Broadway play The Iceman Cometh (starring Denzel Washington and featuring Dakin Matthews), running between late April and early July.

The 2020s[]


The 2020s started for Meaney with a role in The Banker, a film starring Anthony Mackie, Samuel L. Jackson and Nicholas Hoult. Among his upcoming projects are the feature films Pixie and The Happy Worker.


Meaney has been cast in recurring roles for the upcoming television series Gangs of London and The Singapore Grip.

Star Trek appearances[]

Appearances as O'Brien[]

Star Trek interviews[]

External links[]