LOS ANGELES, Oct. 15 (UPI) -- Treadstone was the covert government organization that programmed Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) in the Bourne films. USA's new series Treadstone introduces other agents who were programmed by the organization.
You can see them in action every Tuesday at 10 p.m. EDT, but don't expect them to star in Bourne films themselves.
"The mythology [of Treadstone] would be concurrent with the films," executive producer Ben Smith told UPI in a phone interview. "Is there any international plan of crossovering characters from the show into the movies? No, not at this point."
Does that suggest there are plans for a sixth film to star Matt Damon? Smith, who produced the films The Bourne Legacy and Jason Bourne, wouldn't crack under questioning.
"Can't say," he dodged.
One film was made without Matt Damon -- The Bourne Legacy starred Jeremy Renner as Treadstone agent Aaron Cross. On Treadstone, characters don't even say the name Jason Bourne. The show is intended to stand on its own.
"We're not setting up fans with an expectation that Jason Bourne is going to show up in the series," Smith said. "That's not what this is at all. So we're not referencing Jason in the show."
Treadstone begins in Cold War Russia in the 1970s. John Randolph Bentley (Jeremy Irvine) escapes the KGB, only to find the CIA suspicious that he's a double agent. He escapes in a brutal fight scene and rooftop chase wearing nothing but white boxers.
"We filmed the pilot in January and February in Budapest," Irvine told UPI in a separate phone interview. "I don't know what that is in Fahrenheit, but in Celsius it was minus-9 some nights. [I was] running around in my little tighty whitey underwear with nipples that could cut glass."
Robert Ludlum's novel The Bourne Identity was published in 1980. The 2002 film adaptation was set present day, placing the Bentley storyline decades earlier in the cinematic Bourne universe. Smith suggests Treadstone got the idea from the KGB.
"This wasn't something that was an exclusive thing happening in Washington, D.C.," Smith said. "It was happening all over the world, so we loved the concept of having a captured CIA agent in John Randolph Bentley being captured by the KGB and put under kind of the precursor to the Treadstone program in East Berlin."
Even Bentley isn't totally sure if he's been turned.
"I wanted to really not have him just going in there and kicking ass," Irvine said. "I wanted to have emotional vulnerability, and I also wanted him to really fight [within] himself whether he was a good guy or a bad guy, which is a lot more interesting to play."
Other Treadstone agents awaken in the present. SoYun Pak (Hyo-Joo Han) is a North Korean mother who hears a tune on her son's video game that unleashes her Treadstone training. Korean star Han speaks Korean on the show, albeit with the northern accent.
"It's a different accent," Han told UPI in a phone interview. "It's way different, so we had a North Korean accent coach. She fixed many things for us. I really appreciate her."
Han has been acting in Korea since 2004. She said she did not initially know that the role would feature Korean dialogue.
"It's my first TV show in the U.S., but I can speak my own language. Even in a different accent, it's my own language," Han said. "So there was less pressure for sure."
Both Jason Bourne and Aaron Cross were Americans. It was important to Smith that Treadstone feature international agents.
"For me, it was incredibly important, without question, having a diverse group of agents and characters represent the world that I live in and definitely represent the world of the intelligence world," Smith said. "To not have that represented on our show would feel like a false note."
Like Jason Bourne, the Treadstone agents piece together their memories after they wake up. Similarly, the producers kept the actors in the dark about their characters.
"I just know she's North Korean and is just normal housewife," Han said. "She really loves her family. She loves her husband and she loves her son. She has to protect her family. That's all I knew when the show started."
Another American agent is Doug McKenna (Brian J. Smith). Doug was working on an oil rig when Treadstone woke him up.
"He's afraid that he's murdered someone in the first episode and he has no memory about it," Smith said in a phone interview. "So he's carrying around this terrible burden of something being not right about himself, but not even being able to articulate it to himself or his wife."
Bentley and Pak awaken their Treadstone training when enemy combatants threaten them. Doug awakens in a bar fight. Even Doug is surprised how brutally and efficiently he dispatches his opponent.
"The interesting dichotomy that's going on with Doug is that he's really a really good guy," Smith said. "He doesn't want to hurt people. He is not a killer, and yet he finds himself in situations where he has to, whether he wants to or not unleash this really, really violent dark side of his personality. That was really fun to play with."