If you’ve scrolled through Netflix for the past few days, then you might have already noticed the new TV series titled The Queen’s Gambit. Starring young actress Anya Taylor-Joy, it’s the streaming platform’s latest word of mouth hit, and it has only risen in popularity ever since it premiered last October 23. Case in point: The show is currently in the number five spot on Netflix Philippines’ Top 10 list.
Successful as it is now, did you know that it actually took 30 years for this project to come to fruition? Co-created by Scott Frank and Allan Scott, it was the latter who first won the adaptation rights to Walter Tevis’ novel of the same name way back in 1992. At the time, Allan’s vision was to turn Beth Harmon’s coming-of-age story into a feature-length film as directed by Heath Ledger.
According to Allan, the late actor’s own struggle with substance abuse particularly drew him to working on the film his for directorial debut. “Everyone knows Heath was a user of prescription drugs; and that he had addiction issues when he was a young man,” Allan told The Independent in an interview back in 2008. “He was passionate about it; he was an intense, interested young man and I was drawn to him immediately. We spoke and spoke about the project over the phone, and then eventually got around to meeting up over it towards the end of last year.”
In fact, Heath already had an actress in mind to play the main role for the movie. Allan revealed that he had sent out the film script to Juno and Umbrella Academy actress Ellen Page who was only 21 years old at the time. “Heath was full of ideas for the other cast, mainly from his list of acting friends. We were planning to make a movie at the end of 2008,” said Allan.
Unfortunately, the acclaimed actor passed away on January 22, 2008, just a few months before the start of the movie’s supposed production date. The film was then put on hold for years up until Scott Frank revived the story with the hopes of turning it into a miniseries instead. “Right after I finished Godless, I had this revelation that there were so many things I had tried to do in the past where I felt that a movie screen couldn’t hold all of the story,” he told Forbes.com.
Fast forward to the present, you can now stream all seven episodes of The Queen’s Gambit exclusively on Netflix. The critically acclaimed limited series centers on Beth Harmon, an orphan in the 1960s who discovers her impeccable prowess for chess.
Netflix’s official synopsis reads: “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.”