What happens when a queen becomes a pawn to addiction? Netflix’s The Queen’s Gambit stars Anya Taylor-Joy as a brilliant, tortured woman intent on smashing competitive chess’ glass ceiling. Based on the novel by Walter Tevis, the seven-episode limited series drama was co-created by two-time Academy Award nominee Scott Frank (Godless) and Allan Scott (Don’t Look Now), who are executive producers along with William Horberg (The Talented Mr. Ripley, Cold Mountain).
The Queen’s Gambit is a “coming-of-age story that explores the true cost of genius,” according to the official synopsis. “Abandoned and entrusted to a Kentucky orphanage in the late 1950s, a young Beth Harmon (Taylor-Joy) discovers an astonishing talent for chess while developing an addiction to tranquilizers provided by the state as a sedative for the children. Haunted by her personal demons and fueled by a cocktail of narcotics and obsession, Beth transforms into an impressively skilled and glamorous outcast while determined to conquer the traditional boundaries established in the male-dominated world of competitive chess.”
The first trailer teases the game will be played as a dark psychological drama. Watch it below:
Taylor-Joy previously starred in the indie horror film The Witch, and appears in Split, Emma, New Mutants, Peaky Blinders, The Miniaturist, and Netflix’s Dark Crystal. Her character, Elizabeth (Beth) Harmon, is described as an “orphaned girl in Kentucky who realizes an incredible talent for chess while developing a dependency on tranquilizers at an early age. As she grows into a young woman, Beth is fueled by her addictions, jeopardizing herself and those around her in her determined pursuit of becoming champion.”
Marielle Heller, who directed A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, plays Mrs. Alma Wheatley: “A lonely housewife with an absent husband and her own vices, Alma welcomes Beth as both her adopted daughter and much needed companion.” Game of Thrones’ Thomas Brodie-Sangster is the “arrogant, confident and calm, Benny Watts, a young chess talent himself, becomes one of Beth’s greatest opponents as well as one of her closest allies.”
Moses Ingram, who will next be seen in Joel’s Coen’s upcoming Macbeth, plays Jolene: “Fellow orphan, and host to new resident, Jolene, quickly befriends Beth and helps her navigate the rules and regulations of orphan life.” Harry Melling (Harry Potter) plays Harry Beltik, a “traditional learner and one of the best chess players in the state of Kentucky, according to the press statement. He is “in awe of Beth’s talent and enters her life when she is at a low point.” Bill Camp (The Night of) play the janitor who introduces Beth to the game of chess. His Mr. Shaibel “is quickly humbled by her natural ability at the game and opens new doors for the young prodigy.”
The Queen’s Gambit premieres October 23 on Netflix.