Anya Taylor-Joy Reveals She Didn’t Know How To Play Chess Before Taking On Role In The Queen’s Gambit

“I knew there were pieces, I knew there was a board."


Anya Taylor-Joy has shot to fame over the past year. Landing the lead role in Jane Austen’s Emma, which came out in February, having already starred in Peaky Blinders and is now the lead in everyone’s current Netflix obsession The Queen’s Gambit.

If you haven’t watched it yet (seriously get on it) it follows the story of Beth, an orphan who is also a chess prodigy. Throughout the show we see her upping her game and travelling the world to play in prestigious chess tournaments. However, there is a dark side of drug and booze addiction throughout her rise to success.

Even if you have absolutely no interest in chess, the show is addictive and is also helped by the amazing wardrobe as it’s set in the 60’s.  As it turns out Anya hadn’t a clue how to play chess herself before taking on the part.


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Speaking with The Sun she shared;  “I knew there were pieces, I knew there was a board, but that’s actually what was kind of awesome about getting to do this, that I got invited into a very secret world that’s super-cool and really interesting.”

“A lot of the chess, especially the speed chess, was my favourite part of filming. Anything you bring an intensity to has the power to be sexy or cool. I think chess is very cool, personally.”

“It’s something people are willing to dedicate so much work and ­passion to. I find that very sexy and cool.”


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The opportunity to play the troubled Beth was something Anya leapt at, as she identified so much with the character.; “It was pretty instantaneous. I read the book in about an hour and a half. And I’ve never run to or from a meeting before. I don’t run, I don’t exercise that way. But I ran to meet him.”

“I felt like I could really understand that sense of loneliness and just trying so desperately to make sense of a world that didn’t come naturally to Beth and that dependency on chess.”

“She comes from a background where every person she has ever met has let her down in some way, or ­abandoned her. She doesn’t trust people, and so she’s desperately trying to find a place to fit in. And as a kid I certainly had elements of that, so I was obsessed with her pretty immediately.”

The Queen’s Gambit is streaming on Netflix now.