Top 10 Behind the Scenes Secrets About The Queen's Gambit

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Top 10 Behind the Scenes Secrets About The Queen's Gambit

VOICE OVER: Emily - WatchMojo WRITTEN BY: Val Namaki
These behind the scenes secrets about "The Queen's Gambi" may catch you off guard. Our countdown includes the Harry Potter connection, redheaded Beth, the moves were orchestrated, and more!
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Behind the Scenes Secrets About The Queen's Gambit


Welcome to MsMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Behind The Scenes Secrets About “The Queen’s Gambit”.

For this list, we’ll be looking at little known reported facts, bits of trivia and more about the Netflix limited series.

What did you think of the show? Let us know in the comments below!

#10: It Was Originally Going to Be a Movie


The Walter Tevis novel “The Queen’s Gambit”, on which the show is based, was almost adapted into a film years ago. And late actor Heath Ledger, - known for a wide range of roles, from Patrick Verona in “10 Things I Hate About You” to The Joker in “The Dark Knight” - was going to act in and direct it! Allan Scott, whose real name is Allan Schiach, got the rights to the book in the ‘90s. He also worked on creating the new Netflix version. He said Ledger “was passionate about it; he was an intense, interested young man and I was drawn to him immediately”. Not only that, Ellen Page was going to play Beth. Unfortunately, Ledger tragically passed away in 2008 before production was set to begin.

#9: Beth's Lipstick Had a Deeper Meaning


Every detail of this miniseries was intentionally crafted, even down to Beth’s makeup. Specifically, the different shades of lipstick she wears throughout were carefully chosen to reflect her growth and evolution. From the muted to nonexistent colors she wears in her youth, to the bolder and more confident looks as she grows up, her lip shade tells her story. And near its conclusion, the color resembles her adoptive mother Alma's. This was done on purpose, as a sort of tribute to her. Through these choices, viewers can see with their own eyes how Beth changes throughout the course of her life. Sometimes, makeup speaks louder than words.

#8: The Harry Potter Connection


If you kept trying to put your finger on where you knew the actor who plays Harry Beltik from but couldn’t quite figure it out, there’s a good reason. The actor, Harry Melling, is best known for a role he had when he was much younger: Harry Potter’s cousin, Dudley! Coincidentally, Anya Taylor-Joy, the actress behind Beth, is a big fan of the franchise. She’s said that she actually picked up English through the books as a kid. And like many of us, she was hoping to get a Hogwarts letter. While it never came, she did get to fangirl over Melling, who she described as “a gentle, beautiful human” who listened to her rave about the wizarding world. We wonder what Hogwarts houses they’d be in.

#7: Anya Taylor-Joy Was a Rookie st Chess


The actress who played prodigy Beth Harmon didn't actually know anything about the game upon which the series focuses when she was cast. Some people might see this as a setback considering the show's emphasis on chess and Beth’s incredible skill level. However, Anya actually views it as something that helped her do the role justice. She said in an interview that, “Beth is discovering the world of chess, and I could bring that awe and magic to it as well.” Essentially, coming into it with fresh eyes helped her bring authenticity and a sense of wonder to the role in an organic way.

#6: The Actors Really Played the Matches


Every time you see a chess match happening while you watch "The Queen's Gambit", know that it was real. There were no fancy tricks involved here, just the actors learning the moves beforehand and executing them. This is true even for the speed chess matches that took place in the story. And those times where the camera’s focus is on the characters’ faces instead of the board were no exception. There was still a strict pattern and choreography to follow. The 2014 film "Pawn Sacrifice" inspired creator Scott Frank to use this storytelling technique. His goal in zero-ing in on faces was to give the matches a unique energy that was conveyed through the actors’ expressions. It’s all quite impressive to watch.

#5: Redheaded Beth


Red hair is a staple of Beth’s character. It’s an expression of her personality, and changes as she matures. Daniel Parker, the hair and makeup designer for the show, explained that they used wigs to be able to achieve the numerous styles she dons. Interestingly, much of Beth’s aesthetic, and namely her hairstyle, was based on actress Natalie Wood. As for hair color, Parker, Anya Taylor-Joy, and Scott Frank all envisioned Beth as a redhead. And they did so before even talking to each other. In fact, one of the first things Anya said when she first met with Scott was that she felt Beth should have red hair. It was clearly just written in the stars.

#4: Benny's Real-Life Counterpart


In a show that centers so much of its story around the world of chess, it would be hard to completely ignore great real-life players. While the story itself is fictional, Benny’s character was inspired by Bobby Fischer, a chess prodigy and Grandmaster who won countless matches and tournaments from an early age. But the game wasn’t what was most important to Thomas Brodie-Sangster, the actor behind Benny. He said that for him, “It was about discovering who he was as a person. It was about figuring out what part of me I see in Benny; only at that point do you make a character true and believable.” Judging by the final result, we’d say he did a great job.

#3: Beth's Femininity


Chess, especially in the era when the show is set, is a world dominated by men. Because of this, deliberate choices were made to showcase Beth's femininity. She's unafraid to be herself. This is reflected in her dazzling outfits, for instance. It’s also shown through her poised and gentle physicality. Of this, Taylor-Joy said: “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.” The actress’ background in ballet certainly helped her find those movements. Beth lives in a sexist society, but she refuses to give in to the gender norms of the time. She embraces both sides of herself and is better for it.

#2: The Moves Were Orchestrated


The chess moves on the show were anything but random, and were in fact carefully choreographed like a dance. As for the hypothetical scenarios Beth visualizes? They were also all real possible plays. No movement was left to chance, thanks to experts Garry Kasparov and Bruce Pandolfini, who planned the sequences and guided the actors. Interestingly, the creator reportedly asked Kasparov, a chess grandmaster, to play Borgov. He refused and signed on for this role instead, where his knowledge was put to good use. In an interview, Anya Taylor-Joy was adamant that this attention to detail was a crucial part in making sure they did the game, and the people who love it, justice. If you’re a chess aficionado, you won’t be disappointed.

#1: Anya Taylor-Joy Signed on Before Reading a Script


The actress who skillfully brought main character Beth to life joined the project early on. So early on in fact, that a script didn’t even exist yet. The mind behind the miniseries, Scott Frank, sent her the Walter Tevis novel on which the show is based. Upon reading it, she immediately knew that she wanted to be a part of telling the story on-screen. She said in an interview that she literally “ran” to see Frank, and that she felt really “passionate about the character and story”. The fact that the narrative goes beyond just Beth being an excellent chess player really appealed to her. And we’re glad it did, because it’s hard to imagine anybody else ever embodying Beth as perfectly as she did.
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