How do you turn yourself into the world’s most formidable chess prodigy when you barely know how to play the game yourself? That was the question facing Anya Taylor-Joy as she prepared to step into the mind of Beth Harmon, the protagonist of Walter Tevis’s novel The Queen’s Gambit and its lavish Netflix adaptation, which arrives on the service this month. Set in the 1950s and ’60s, the limited series follows Harmon’s rise from orphan with a talent to teen prodigy to national champion, all as she deals with addiction to tranquilizers – crippling, but sometimes useful when she’s plotting her moves alone at night – and the men of the chess-world boys’ club who want to keep her out. Ahead of the series’ release, Taylor-Joy sat down with us to break down how she tapped into Harmon’s pain, why she relates to her solitary pursuit, and how her dance training helped her feign a mastery of pawns, rooks, and knights. (Thumbnail image courtesy of Netflix)
The Queen’s Gambit is available on Netflix from Friday, October 23, 2020.