Treadstone may be set in the Bourne universe, but it’s not a story about Jason Bourne himself. This is a series with a true ensemble cast, and one where the lines between hero and villain are very blurred.
Irvine is playing a character named J. Randolph Bentley. Bentley is a character with a dark past even before coming into contact with the Treadstone program. As a CIA spy working abroad during the Cold War, he has quite a bit of blood on his hands.
Check out an exclusive clip from the series premiere for a look at just how deadly Bentley can be:
We asked Irvine how much he thinks the franchise changes with the shift from a lone, familiar protagonist to a true ensemble cast. He told us it considerably widens the scope of the Bourne universe. And while it’s becoming something of a cliche to describe new TV shows as long movies, in this case the description may actually be appropriate.
Irvine said, “It’s ten episodes, and what really struck me reading the scripts and, certainly, seeing the amount of budget that was being spent on each episode, was that each episode feels like a feature film in its own right. Having multiple protagonists enables us to have what feels like sort of 10 feature films, one per episode. And I think the way that TV now is, especially the sort of high-end TV, is it has to be as good, if not better than, a feature film.”
Another key change is that the series will explore multiple time periods. In the case of Bentley, the series will flash back to his CIA missions in 1973 and explore his role in the creation of what eventually becomes the Treadstone program. In the process, we’ll see how Bentley went from morally upright soldier to remorseless killer.
“What’s interesting about John is that his background is someone who fought in Vietnam, has had a very strong sense of right and wrong and an enormously strong sense of patriotism, and then ends up discovering that he’s gone entirely against that and it sort of flips his world upside down,” said Irvine. “Which is really fun to play. You know, it’s great not to just play this nice hero, good guy. I’m playing someone who actually has a much darker, darker twisted side to them. And has to wrestle with that.”
Much like how Matt Damon went through an intensive physical training process for the Bourne movies, Irvine and his co-stars put in a lot of hard work getting into fighting shape for Treeadstone. He told us that while filming on Treadstone began in January of this year, he started work back in November 2018, learning martial arts and military combat techniques and preparing for the show’s numerous action sequences.
“It shouldn’t just be actors going through choreography,” said Irvine. “You know, we actually had to learn the martial arts. Months and months was spent actually learning the different martial art techniques. It was all very real visceral stuff. Stuff that’s taught today in the United States military and special forces – ways of disarming someone with knives, with guns, with batons and other weapons, making weapons, from things that you can just sort of find around you.”
Many Bourne fans have been wondering just how directly connected Treadstone will be to the Bourne movies. While there’s no indication Damon will actually be reprising his role in Treadstone, the Jason Bourne character will cast a shadow over the series and the program’s new sleeper agents. Irvine confirmed there will be references to the events of the five Bourne films and Easter eggs for hardcore fans to seek out. In addition, Irvine hinted at a more direct link between the films and the TV series, revealing that one character was working at Treadstone when Bourne originally went rogue and has a personal history with the program’s most infamous asset.
Treadstone premieres on the USA Network on Tuesday, October 15 at 10pm EST. While you wait, check out the video below for another early glimpse of this ambitious Bourne spinoff:
Jesse is a mild-mannered writer for IGN. Allow him to lend a machete to your intellectual thicket by following @jschedeen on Twitter.SOURCE: IGN.com