‘Treadstone’s Brian J. Smith Talks Filming the Bourne Spinoff in Norway

Treadstone - Season 1
Jonathan Hession/USA Network

Odds are good that as you’re reading this, one of the Bourne action movies is airing on some channel — and odds are better that if your TV is on, you’ve been sucked in. So it’s truly exciting to see fresh material from author Robert Ludlum’s world of global espionage.

In Treadstone, brainwashed and highly trained agents similar to Matt Damon‘s big-screen Jason Bourne are “woken up” and given missions for the CIA black-ops program known as Treadstone.

One such agent, Doug McKenna (Sense8‘s Brian J. Smith), is a seemingly unremarkable oil rig worker in Alaska — until a random bar fight (the actor rehearsed that scene for three and a half weeks!) unleashes a combat prowess he had no idea he possessed.

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The international action drama, inspired by Robert Ludlum's novels, digs into the origins of the CIA's black-ops organization.

“I tried to have a basic idea of what I thought Doug knew about himself, which is pretty sketchy at the beginning,” Smith says. “The producers and writers didn’t want to tell me too much [so I would] be as off-balance as Doug.”

A Hollywood soundstage wouldn’t do justice to the drama’s breadth, so Norway’s Svalbard islands doubled for Alaska. (Other locations: Paris, Budapest, India, Ghana, Taiwan, Amsterdam, Seoul and Colombia.)

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Michelle Forbes, Patrick Fugit, Jeremy Irvine and more make up the growing roster.

Whenever possible, producers opted to shoot in actual environments versus using green screens — not the most fun for Smith in the polar region. “It was so cold that for any scenes outside, if you had any exposed skin, we could only do 45-second takes,” he recalls. Are there any assassination targets in Hawaii?

Treadstone, Series Premiere, Tuesday, October 15, 10/9c, USA