When it comes to playing badasses at a young age, Anya Taylor-Joy has the market pretty much cornered, from battling James McAvoy’s monstrous supervillain in Split to battling a demon bear as the superhero Illyana Rasputin aka Magik inThe New Mutants. In her upcoming Netflix miniseries The Queen’s Gambit, Taylor-Joy faces a new sort of challenge as Beth Harmon, a precocious chess prodigy. In an interview, Taylor-Joy revealed how her role as Magik prepared her to play Beth,
“I loved Illyana as much as I loved Beth. I have very deep connections with my characters, and the second I read Illyana for the first time, I was like, ‘Oh, mine forever.’ But, the reality of playing somebody that stomps into a room that aggressively was certainly something that, right before action, I was like, ‘I can’t believe I’m about to do this. Okay. I’m doing it. It’s happening.’ I think it probably did set the stage for the lack of – I’m trying not to swear, but fill in the blanks – the lack of [a damn] that Beth gives. Beth just embodies this energy, where she is just going to do what she needs to do in order to win. And yeah, I think Illyana certainly helped with the confidence level of that.”
Based on the 1983 novel of the same name, The Queen’s Gambit features Taylor-Joy as an orphan named Beth, who finds her life taking a turn for the unexpected when she discovers at the age of eight that she is extraordinarily attuned to the game of chess. As Beth takes greater strides into the world of Chess Championships, she struggles with the expectations of the world and her own personal issues with narcotics dependency. For Taylor-Joy, it was important to emphasize Beth’s confidence in her ability through a suitably commanding performance.
“I think it was genuinely fascinating and wonderful to me that Beth is so outside of society, that she’s genuinely baffled by the fact that people talk about her gender, and not like the incredible play she just made. I think like that level of comfort in your own ability was something that I really enjoyed playing. I think it’s important, not just as a performer, but as a human being, to be aware of history. But it felt pretty good to sort of walk up and go, ‘I’m aware of all of this stuff. It does not pertain to this character. I’m gonna let it go,’ and just sort of like show up and do my stuff.”
After The Queen’s Gambit, Anya Taylor-Joy will start work playing another iconic badass female, when she stars in George Miller’s upcoming movie telling the story of a young Imperator Furiosa from Mad Max: Fury Road. It is clear that the actress is well on her way to establishing herself as a genuine acting powerhouse in Hollywood, one role at a time.
The Queen’s Gambit features a lead cast of Anya Taylor-Joy as Beth Harmon, Marielle Heller as Alma Wheatley, Moses Ingram as Jolene, Harry Melling as Harry Beltnik, and Thomas Brodie-Sangster as Benny. The miniseries will be released on Friday, October 23rd, exclusively on Netflix. This news was first reported at comicbook.com.