‘Sense8’ Star Brian J. Smith Says ‘Treadstone’ Is ‘A Continuation’ For Him

Fans of the Wachowskis’ Netflix series Sense8 got to see one last finale movie before the show was gone for good. Fans of Sense8 can see star Brian J. Smith in another action-packed show soon. Treadstone, set in the world of the Jason Bourne movies, is about a whole new group of sleeper agents awoken by Treadstone.

Sense8 stars Brian J. Smith and Tuppence Middleton
Brian J. Smith and Tuppence Middleton in Sense8 | Murray Close/Netflix

Smith plays Doug McKenna, an oil worker whose Treadstone training comes out in a bar fight. Smith spoke with Showbiz Cheat Sheet by phone and said there are some surprising parallels to his Sense8 character. We’ll have more with the cast and creators of Treadstone at Showbiz Cheat Sheet. Treadstone premieres Tuesday, October 15 at 10 p.m. on USA.

‘Sense8’ dealt with identity and ‘Treadstone’ is all about identity

The whole Bourne story began with The Bourne Identity. Treadstone continues the search for identity with new characters like Doug trying to uncover the past that Treadstone buried.

Sense8 is all about identity and also probably more than that, empathy,” Smith said. “It was kind of an exploration of connection. A lot of it was, in the beginning, these people finding out that who they think they are is not the whole story. It’s a sort of similar setup with Treadstone.”

Brian J. Smith in Treadstone
Brian J. Smith in Treadstone | Jonathan Hession/USA Network

Treadstone agents may not have superhuman powers, but their practical skills are definitely more intense than the average person.

“It’s like who am I?” Smith said. “What’s going on? These people freaked out about these mysterious things happening to them and trying to recalibrate their ideas of who they are. But they really do veer off in really interesting directions the more the stories go on.”

Doug continues Brian J. Smith’s ‘Sense8’ journey

Doug McKenna is a different character than Will Gorski, but Smith saw Doug as a chance to continue what he was exploring on Sense8.

Brian J. Smith in Treadstone
Brian J. Smith in Treadstone | Jonathan Hession/USA Network

“I think for me too it was a continuation of the things I was exploring in Sense8,” Smith said. “This seemed like something that was kind of an interesting next step because there’s a lot of similarities to Sense8 but in a lot of ways it fundamentally comes from a completely different angle. I was really fascinated by that.”

‘Sense8’ was more flexible than ‘Treadstone’

Brian J. Smith said that Sense8 was always in flux and adapting. Treadstone stuck to the script more formally.

Brian J. Smith (R) and Naveen Andrews (L) in Sense8 | Netflix

Sense8 there was a lot of changes that happened in Sense8 as we filmed, but they were more minor,” Smith said. “They were more text changes, dialogue changes as we would film a scene. Lana would be like ‘Ah, this isn’t working. I want this character to go more in this direction in this moment.’” 

Brian J. Smith knows less about the ‘Treadstone’ story

For a show with as much mystery as Sense8, the Wachowskis and other writers were forthcoming with the actors. Treadstone is much more of a “you’ll know when you get the script” situation. 

Brian J. Smith in Treadstone
Brian J. Smith in Treadstone | Jonathan Hession/USA Network

“When we started Sense8, we read I think the first nine episodes. We spent two days doing a table read of everything we had. Whereas this we just had the first episode. With Treadstone we just had the first episode and it wasn’t until I guess like May that we started to get episodes 2 and episodes 3. So we were just hungry to find out what was going to happen next as hopefully the audience will be.”

Brian J. Smith, interview with Showbiz Cheat Sheet, 10/1/19

The one quality all of Brian J. Smith’s characters have

If Treadstone is connected to Sense8 at all, it may simply be this one universal quality that Brian J. Smith can’t seem to shake. 

Brian J. Smith in Treadstone | Jonathan Hession/USA Network

“I suppose for me there’s just a kind of American quality to who I am and to what I do that really I can’t get away from,” Smith said. “No matter what I try, no matter how I try and transform, there’s going to be this piece of middle America that just kind of comes off of me like a smell. I really can’t change. I think that was an important aspect to Doug’s character as well.”