With ‘Treadstone,’ espionage is Bourne anew

USA Network series carries on the franchise’s action

Jeremy Irvine stars in the USA Network espionage series “Treadstone,” premiering Tuesday.

Thanks to a new television spinoff, a popular action-adventure franchise is Bourne again.

Actually, beyond the invoking of his name, Jason Bourne isn’t a character in “Treadstone” … though others carry on his tradition. Premiering Tuesday, Oct. 15, the USA Network series – involving some producers of the “Bourne” movies, who maintain the premise’s international scope – focuses on other operatives of the highly secretive CIA initiative in Bourne’s background. Jeremy Irvine (“War Horse”) and Brian J. Smith (“Sense8”) are among the stars of the saga of sleeper agents awakened around the world to tackle the missions they were programmed for.

“Treadstone” was developed by Tim Kring, the creator of such shows as “Heroes” and “Crossing Jordan.” Executive producer Jeffrey Weiner also worked on “The Bourne Supremacy,” “The Bourne Ultimatum,” “The Bourne Legacy” and “Jason Bourne,” and he reports that the idea for the TV series first came up “10 or 12 years ago. We always thought the spy agency where Jason Bourne started would be a great element to pull out, and we created the show we created.

“There’s much more depth to the agency than there is to Jason,” Weiner maintains. “He’s a great character, larger than life and really big-screen material … but with Treadstone itself, there are so many different angles, it really lends itself to what we’ve done. It’s more of an ensemble cast rather than a main lead, with people who can go in and out.”

Others in that ensemble include Omar Metwally (“The Affair”) as a CIA veteran whose troubled past makes him an ideal point person for the so-called Operation Treadstone, Tracy Ifeachor (“Quantico”) as a reporter who restarts her career by pursuing the Treadstone story, and Michelle Forbes (“Homicide: Life on the Street”) and Michael Gaston (“The Man in the High Castle”) as other CIA officials.

Metwally agrees that his “Treadstone” character, Mr. Edwards, echoes roles played by Brian Cox, Joan Allen and David Strathairn in the “Bourne” films. “He starts out very purposely a believer in the institution of the CIA and what it’s doing,” the actor says, “and we see over the course of the season how that unfolds, but he’s initially in line with the principles of the organization as he sees them. The original arc of the character changed significantly after we shot the pilot, and I was really excited by the ideas.”

The “Bourne” franchise already was known and liked by Metwally at the point “Treadstone” was presented to him. “I think it was essential” to know the movies first, he reflects, “because those films create the world that the (TV) series expands upon. I think that without those films, this series doesn’t really exist.”

Jay Bobbin

Jay Bobbin

Jay Bobbin has decades of experience covering the television and movie businesses, winning Tribune Media Services’ Crown Jewel Award in 2008 for his performance in the company. Over those many years of interviewing and writing, he has spoken with everyone from Robert De Niro and John Travolta to Paul McCartney and Tony Bennett … from Meryl Streep and Julie Andrews to Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood.

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