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    23 "The Queen's Gambit" Behind-The-Scenes Facts You Probably Didn't Know, But Should

    The book that the series is based on was almost turned into a movie by Heath Ledger.

    🚨Warning: There are MASSIVE spoilers ahead!🚨

    1. First, Anya Taylor-Joy joined The Queen's Gambit so early that a script didn't even exist yet — creator Scott Frank sent her a copy of Walter Tevis's novel of the same name, and she was "sold."

    2. In fact, The Queen's Gambit was almost turned into a movie before this TV show — originally, Heath Ledger was set to make his directorial debut on the project before his death in 2008.

    Anya Taylor-Joy as Beth shaking an opponent's hand at a chess tournament
    Phil Bray / Netflix

    Heath reportedly loved the book and really wanted to make it a movie starring Elliot Page as Beth Harmon.

    3. Anya knew nothing about chess before signing on to play Beth — she said she thinks it helped her "a lot" and allowed her to really dive into the world.

    Beth reading a book while sitting in front of a chess set
    Phil Bray / Netflix

    Anya explained, "Beth is discovering the world of chess, and I could bring that awe and magic to it as well."

    4. Every move during the chess games was choreographed by chess consultants Garry Kasparov and Bruce Pandolfini — they also helped coach all of the actors.

    Beth playing a game of chess

    Garry Kasparov is a Russian chess grandmaster and Bruce Pandolfini is a renowned American chess teacher.

    5. Originally, creator Scott Frank asked Garry Kasparov to play Borgov in The Queen's Gambit, but he turned down the role and became a consultant instead.

    Beth concentrating during a game
    Phil Bray / Netflix

    Garry helped provide a lot of the background knowledge on how a chess prodigy would feel, and he designed the final chess matches in Russia during Episode 7, including the one between Borgov and Beth.

    6. Every single chess game shown on screen was played by the actors in those scenes, including the fast-paced speed chess matches.

    Thomas Brodie-Sangster as Benny playing against Beth

    Anya said the speed chess matches were some of her favorite parts of filming and she has never been more proud of herself than when she nailed a speed chess game.

    7. In fact, there were even chess matches where the board is never shown on screen, only the actors' faces, but they still played a real game.

    Various shots of chess matches and the actors playing them

    Scott Frank said, "You can freeze frame anything, and it's a real chess setup. There's even a whole sequence where you never see the board, but they're still actually moving the pieces where they're supposed to. The actors always knew exactly where every piece was supposed to go."

    8. Anya was taught all of the moves Beth would make in a chess game minutes before a scene was filmed, so everything was fresh in her mind.

    Beth and a young opponent
    Phil Bray / Netflix

    9. Anya, Scott Frank, and makeup and hair designer Daniel Parker actually all independently decided that Beth should be a redhead, and the only way to accomplish all of Beth's hairstyles was by using wigs.

    The making of Beth Harmon with the Queen herself @anyataylorjoy and hair and makeup artists Claudia Stolze and Daniel Parker.

    netflixqueue / Via Twitter: @netflixqueue

    Daniel Parker explained, "Sometimes you were changing into three different looks in one day — there's no way that you can do [that] without wigs. Right at the beginning, I decided that she should be a redhead. I didn't have any doubts about that and then funny enough, both Scott Frank and Anya individually said, 'She's a redhead.'"

    10. Anya filmed The Queen's Gambit, Emma, and Last Night in Soho around the same time, and actually only had "one day off" in between each project.

    11. The character of Benny is loosely based on real-life American chess grandmaster Bobby Fischer, who, at 13 years old, won a game that became known as "The Game of the Century."

    Beth and Benny

    12. Anya said her years as a ballet dancer helped her come up with how Beth would physically move the chess pieces — she said, "I just got to learn really nifty, cool choreography with my fingers."


    13. Also, it was very important to Anya that Beth, as a female chess player, physically acted differently than her male counterparts, and that you could see that difference on screen.

    Beth and opponent contemplating their game as a crowd watches
    Phil Bray / Netflix

    She explained, "I wanted her to have a very distinctive way of moving the pieces that was still, whilst very quick and ruthless, undeniably feminine. Beth doesn't have to choose."

    14. In fact, each actor helped come up with the personal mannerisms for their characters, like Thomas Brodie-Sangster came up with the idea that Benny would constantly play with his ring.


    Thomas said, "That was a very personal thing. It was very interesting when we came together [to play chess], because we saw that everyone had been working on developing their little habits."

    15. Costume designer Gabriele Binder actually incorporated the "lines of the chessboard" throughout Beth's wardrobe.

    Phil Bray / Netflix

    Here you can see a solid black line down the front of her shirt and her pink and white jacket resembles the squares on a chessboard.

    16. Some of the inspiration behind how to film the chess matches in The Queen's Gambit came from watching Ed Zwick's film Pawn Sacrifice — in the movie, the faces of the players are shown more often than the chessboard.

    Beth facing down her opponent

    Scott Frank explained, "So much of that was on Liev Schreiber's face or Tobey Maguire's face that you got everything you needed to know. And I realized watching that film, 'We have to give each tournament its own personality that reflects where [Beth] is at.'"

    17. Although a majority of The Queen's Gambit is set in the US, most of the series was filmed in Berlin.

    Beth sitting on a bench while Benny stands next to her
    Ken Woroner / Netflix

    18. If you didn't know, Marielle Heller, who played Alma, is a well-known director and was behind films like A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, Can You Ever Forgive Me?, and What the Constitution Means to Me.

    Alma standing in front of a hotel concierge with Beth standing behind her holding a suitcase
    Phil Bray / Netflix

    Marielle talked about going back to acting after years of directing, saying, "I was feeling burned out on directing and movie-wise wasn’t sure what my next big project was going to be. So I said yes to doing this very different type of project that required a different skill set from me, sort of just to shake things up, if anything."

    19. All of the hypothetical chess situations that play out in Beth's head and are seen on screen include real chess moves that could happen — basically, the VFX team also learned chess while doing the effects.


    Chicken Bone FX worked on all of the effects for the series and you can actually watch this amazing reel showing the before and after of some of their incredible work in The Queen's Gambit.

    20. There were a lot of women who worked behind the scenes on the series, including Michelle Tesoro, who single-handedly edited all seven episodes.

    Beth and Benny playing one another at the US Open with several onlookers standing near

    21. Anya is a massive Harry Potter fan and said Harry Melling, who played Harry in The Queen's Gambit and Dudley in the Harry Potter films, "graciously" sat and listened to her freak out over his involvement in the popular films.

    Anya and Harry playing against each other in a kitchen

    Anya actually moved from Buenos Aires to London when she was only 6 years old, and learned English by reading the Harry Potter books.

    22. Each of Beth's lipstick colors were deliberately chosen for each individual scene and helped signify Beth's age as the series progressed — toward the end of the series, Beth's lipstick shade ultimately becomes a nod to Alma.


    Makeup and hair designer Daniel Parker elaborated, saying, "The lips, along with the eyelashes, can temper what the character's doing, or how the character's behaving. Towards the end, Beth's shades become similar to her second mother's as an ode to her."

    23. And finally, Anya cried during "every single take" while filming the final moment of the series when Beth plays chess in the Russian park — she said she was just "so happy" for Beth in that moment.

    Beth saying, "Let's play" in Russian

    She continued, saying, "I think it’s just, it’s the first time that she’s able to go: 'You know what? I deserve to enjoy this. Leave me alone for a second. I have worked my whole life for this moment. I need a second. Let me live.'"