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One of Universal’s most successful recent film series is theBournefranchise, named for Matt Damon’s former CIA black ops assassin Jason Bourne. An adaptation of the series of espionage novels of the same name by writer Robert Ludlum, the franchise is now coming to television asTreadstone, a new action-packed thriller series premiering on the USA Network later this month.Treadstoneis named after the clandestine CIA program that brainwashed and trained Bourne and his counterparts to become the lethal, globe-trotting killers of the films and novels.
In an exclusive interview,Treadstoneshowrunner and executive producer Ben Smith discusses bringing the popular franchise to cable television, the logistical challenges of following multiple sleeper agents reactivating around the world, exploring the history of the program in the past, and how the series is relevant to international current events.
CBR: WithTreadstone, you’re expanding the world ofJason Bourne, you’re expanding unseen history on this action franchise. How did developing this property for television all come about?
Ben Smith:Well, doingTreadstoneas a television series is something we’ve talking about for many years. The mythology of Treadstone and all of the black ops groups working within the CIA was something that was very interesting to us and the genesis of Jason Bourne. So it’s something that we’ve been developing for some time.
This is one of the more ambitious pilots and premises; you’ve got not just multiple global locations but also multiple timelines. How has it been sorting through all of that logistically in terms of writing and filming?
It’s definitely challenging in the best sense of the word. It’s what excited me the most about this series; doing it this way, we can dive in and tell a story in North Korea or 1973 Berlin or being in the Arctic on an oil rig. All the scope of it really excited me both from a storytelling place and as a viewer. I like things that have a lot of different things to draw from when watching.
Shooting it, logistically, was challenging but everyone was challenged to do their best. We had three units shooting simultaneously almost all the time. We had our main unit, we had our international unit; in the last nine months, I think I traveled 200,000 miles. So we shot on many, many different locations around the world which was very exciting. And then we had a second unit shooting a ton of action for the episodes so we had a lot of spinning pl
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