Treadstone's first episode opens with an imprisoned and drugged-up J. Randolph Bentley nervously bouncing a ball and staring aimlessly at the floor. It's 1973 in East Berlin and he's been in captivity for nine months. His captors believe he's ready to do their bidding — to become an elite assassin taking out the enemy, whoever that might be — but he's not so sure. It's an adrenaline-filled beginning to the character's journey, but Jeremy Irvine, who plays Bentley on Treadstone, is certainly up to the challenge.
In an interview with CinemaBlend, Irvine revealed that in preparation for the role, he spent time with British S.A.S forces, undergoing exhausting amounts of training before he even knew he'd landed the part.
"They do something called resistance to interrogation. So they sort of keep you awake for a couple of days and then you go on a run, [they] deprive you of food and make sure you're really sapped, and then you get fake captured," he recalled. "Bag over the head, plastic cuffs. You get taken for interrogation, which is about 24 hours. They do some pretty horrible stuff to you. They put noise canceling headphones over your head...so you get sensory deprivation. Then they played babies screaming in your ears for, you know, hours, man."
While even the strongest person would break after undergoing such a grueling interrogation, according to Irvine, the torture was worth it because it helped him understand Bentley's experience as part of Operation Treadstone.
"It's amazing how quickly you lose your mind," he said. "But it was surprisingly similar to what my character goes through for this series."
Before Treadstone, Irvine had a pretty solid film and theater career in his home country of England, but this is undoubtedly his most demanding role yet — especially since, as part of the Jason Bourne franchise, the show has a reputation of high-stakes drama and action to live up to. But Irvine wasn't intimidated in the slightest.
"I just really enjoyed [the role], to be honest. I wouldn't say it's particularly intimidating. It's just great fun," Irvine said during an appearance on AOL Build. "It's exactly what I used to do when I was 8 years old in my garden after seeing an action movie. I'd go out and pretending that's what I was doing and now here I am getting to do it semi-for real in a movie. Every kid wants to run out with a gun pretending to be a spy."
That being said, Irvine did find some of the stunts slightly scary. "There was one big jump off a building thing that we shot in a studio and I did say to the director, 'We're doing this once. Let's not chance our luck too often on this one,'" he added.
J. Randolph Bentley's story is only just beginning, which means there's still so much to learn about him as well as the other sleeper agents that are slowly beginning to awaken around the globe. What is Operation Treadstone's ultimate purpose and will Jeremy be able to defeat the black ops program that helped create him? If there's anything we know about the Jason Bourne world, it's that victory never comes easy.
Treadstone airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET on USA.