The Queen's Gambit: How Beth Became Anya Taylor-Joy's Dream Role

When it comes to perfect castings in 2020, it would be hard to argue against Anya Taylor-Joy's Beth Harmon on the Netflix limited series The Queen's Gambit. The actress knew she had to play the chess prodigy the moment she finished the original novel by Walter Tevis of the same name. Taylor-Joy spoke with Deadline Hollywood about taking on the role and having to grow up fast in the 1960's era of The Cold War.

The Queen's Gambit on Netflix Lives up to the 64m views Hype
Cr. PHIL BRAY/NETFLIX © 2020

How The Queen's Gambit Star Anya Taylor-Joy Explains the Cerebral Nature of Beth Harmon

"I said to myself, 'If we were shooting tomorrow, I know exactly what I'm doing, I know how I want to do it, I understand this woman so well,'" Taylor-Joy said. "With Beth, it was instincts on a whole other level, I never had to reach for anything. They just had to yell 'action' and something would happen." The actress' this year earned Golden Globe nominations for Best Performance by an Actress in a Limited Series, Anthology Series or a Motion Picture Made for Television for Queen's Gambit and Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy for Focus Features' adaptation of the Jane Austen classic, Emma. When it came to the Netflix series, Taylor-Joy articulates Beth's drive as "this singular focus, this kind of drive and hunger for something where nothing else mattered. A priority such as 'I hope this person doesn't think me rude, if I'm more abrupt with them' — that doesn't figure [into her]; she's thinking about her goal." Despite creator Scott Frank and EP William Horberg's non-commitment to a second season given the parameters of the 1983 novel, the actress remains open to the idea.

The Queen's Gambit on Netflix Lives up to the 64m views Hype
Cr. PHIL BRAY/NETFLIX © 2020

"It's so surreal and very wonderful that people want a second season because we never thought about it, there was no discussion about it," Taylor-Joy said "That said, never say 'never' in Hollywood." The star did offer some explanation on how Beth's eternal struggle resonates with audiences in a pandemic world as a character of empathy. "There's something to be said of a character whose biggest enemy is herself," she said. "I think all of us living at home and being locked up, we're probably confronting a lot more of ourselves than we're used to because we are used to being distracted. When you're locked up in your house, there's only a certain amount of room to run away from yourself. That is potentially something people were a bit more open to at the end of the day. The show also has a wonderful message: Even if you're brilliant, you still need help. We work better with support, and I think Beth sees the beauty in the support that she garners eventually." The Queen's Gambit is available to stream on Netflix.

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About Tom Chang

I'm a follower of pop culture from gaming, comics, sci-fi, fantasy, film, and TV for over 30 years. I grew up reading magazines like Starlog, Mad, and Fangora. As a professional writer for over 10 years, Star Wars was the first sci-fi franchise I fell in love with. I'm a nerd-of-all-trades.
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