Heath Ledger Originally Had Plans for ‘The Queen’s Gambit’

Netflix fans are over the moon about the streaming platform’s latest dramatic miniseries. The Queen’s Gambit is set in the 1950s and 1960s and follows Beth Harmon (Anya Taylor-Joy), a young girl abandoned at a Kentucky orphanage following her mother’s death.

At the orphanage, she learns the game of chess from the building’s custodian, and she discovers an astonishing talent for the game, which was and still is very male-dominated.

Though she continues to make strides in the chess world, privately, Beth’s experiences addiction to tranquilizers after becoming dependent on them in the orphanage. Though The Queen’s Gambit has only recently come to life, late actor Heath Ledger originally had big plans for it.

The Queen's Gambit (L To R) Anya Taylor-joy As Beth Harmon In Episode 107 Of The Queen's Gambit
The Queen’s Gambit (L To R) Anya Taylor-joy As Beth Harmon In Episode 107 Of The Queen’s Gambit | Netflix © 2020

‘The Queen’s Gambit’ has an interesting origin story

While The Queen’s Gambit is not based on a true story, it is based on Walter Tevis 1983 fiction novel of the same name. Many elements of Beth’s life came from Tevis’s life. “In the past, many women have had to hide their brains, but not today,” he told  The New York Times. He added,

I first began to play chess with my sister and the kids on my block. I once won a prize of $250 and became a Class C player. I now play against a computer, so I don’t have to face a real-life opponent sneering at me—I can always pull out the plug. I’ve played well enough to know what a good game is. I can beat the average person, but I’m afraid to play those guys who set up boards in the street on Broadway.

Tevis also dealt with prescription drug addiction following a rheumatic heart diagnosis. Unfortunately, Tevis’ never got to see The Queen’s Gambit come to life, he passed away in 1984.

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There won’t be a Season 2 of ‘The Queen’s Gambit’

As well-received and acclaimed as The Queen’s Gambit already is, fans will be disappointed to know that we won’t see another season of the show. “The last scene feels like a beautiful note to end the show on, so I’m not sure if we want to go on and answer that question,” executive producer William Horberg told Town & Country. “Maybe we can just let the audience imagine what comes next.”

In fact, it took nearly 30 years for The Queen’s Gambit to come to life and at one point Ledger was involved.

Heath Ledger had plans for ‘The Queen’s Gambit’

Screenwriter Jesse Kornbluth and Ledger, a chess whiz, were developing a film based on the book before the actor’s untimely death in 2008. Ellen Page was slated to star in the lead role for that movie. Ledger was set to direct.

Writer Allan Shiach has had the rights to Tevis’ book since 1992, and in 2008 he spoke to The Independent about Ledger’s plans to direct the movie. “Everyone knows Heath was a user of prescription drugs; and that he had addiction issues when he was a young man,” he said. “The movie business lost a real talent. I think he would have been an extraordinary director.”