‘The Queen’s Gambit’: Why Thomas Brodie Sangster, the Actor Who Plays Benny Watts, Looks So Familiar

Netflix’s new drama, The Queen’s Gambit follows chess prodigy Beth Harmon on her journey to becoming a world-renowned chess master. Thomas Brodie Sangster, the actor who plays U.S. chess champion Benny Watts, may look familiar to viewers — probably because he’s been in some of Hollywood’s most popular projects. 

Anya Taylor-Joy and Thomas Brodie-Sangster in 'The Queen's Gambit'
Anya Taylor-Joy and Thomas Brodie-Sangster in ‘The Queen’s Gambit’ | Netflix

Thomas Brodie Sangster starred in ‘Love Actually’

Sangster is an English actor who started his career at 11 in the BBC film Station Jim. He then appeared in several British TV movies, including The Miracle of the Cards and Stig of the Dump.

But Sangster’s breakthrough role came in 2003 when he joined the star-studded cast of Love Actually. In the movie, he played Sam, the young stepson of Liam Neeson’s character, Daniel. For his performance, Sangster was nominated for numerous awards, including a Satellite Award for Best Actor.

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After Love Actually,  Sangster starred in popular films like Nanny McPhee, Tristan & Isolde, and The Last Legion. And in 2015, he made a cameo as Petty Officer Thanisson in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

He had a recurring role on ‘Game of Thrones’

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Along with his film resume, Sangster developed a flourishing TV career. From 2007 to 2015, he voiced Ferb Fletcher in the animated Disney Channel series Phineas and Ferb. He was also featured on episodes of Doctor Who and Accused

But Sangster’s most notable TV role is from HBO’s hit series, Game of Thrones. In seasons 3 and 4, the actor portrayed Bran Stark’s (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) loyal friend, Jojen Reed. 

Thomas Brodie Sangster had a lead role in ‘The Maze Runner’

In 2014, Sangster joined The Maze Runner film franchise as the Gladers second-in-command, Newt. He reprised his role for the sequels — Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials (2015) and Maze Runner: The Death Cure (2018).

The actor was nominated for three Teen Choice Awards for his Maze Runner role. In 2016, he and co-star Dylan O’Brien won the Choice Movie: Chemistry award.

Thomas Brodie Sangster plays Benny Watts in ‘The Queen’s Gambit’  

Sangster’s last TV role came in 2017, with the Netflix miniseries, Godless. When talking to NME, the 30-year-old said it felt good to get back to work with The Queen’s Gambit after a few years away from the business.

“I took two years off just to chill out and focus on other things,” he revealed. “I went on to Queen’s Gambit, and I felt a bit rusty, but I also left feeling like ‘I can’t wait for the next job!’”

The actor noted that showrunner Scott Frank (who he worked with on Godless) gave him the difficult task of growing out his facial hair for the series. It took him six months to grow the beard and mustache seen on the show. But he admitted that overall, he loved the aesthetic and feel of the series’ characters and classic era.

“I’ve always wanted to work in the 1960s,” Sangster admitted. “I loved being there; the cars, the fashions, the styles, the hair. All of it. It’s very cool.”

The Queen’s Gambit is currently streaming on Netflix.