While Anya Taylor-Joy has already developed a following thanks to her roles in The Witch, Split, and Thoroughbreds, this past year has undoubtedly cemented her as an actress to watch. That is partially thanks to the long-awaited debut of The New Mutants, which sees her star as the beloved X-Men character Illyana Rasputin/Magik. The scene-stealing role saw Taylor-Joy kicking butt and taking names, something that the actress does in a less literal way in The Queen's Gambit, an upcoming limited series from Netflix that is released Friday. In The Queen's Gambit, Taylor-Joy brings to life the trailblazing female chess champion Beth Harmon -- and according to the actress, playing Magik had a unique influence on that.
"I loved Illyana as much as I loved Beth," Taylor-Joy told ComicBook.com during a recent press day for The Queen's Gambit. "I have very deep connections with my characters, and the second I read Illyana for the first time, I was like, 'Oh, mine forever.' But, the reality of playing somebody that stomps into a room that aggressively was certainly something that, right before action, I was like, 'I can't believe I'm about to do this. Okay. I'm doing it. It's happening.'"
"I think it probably did set the stage for the lack of - I'm trying not to swear, but fill in the blanks - the lack of [a damn] that Beth gives," Taylor-Joy continued. "Beth just embodies this energy, where she is just going to do what she needs to do in order to win. And yeah, I think Illyana certainly helped with the confidence level of that."
Based on Walter Tevis' novel of the same name, The Queen's Gambit tracks Beth from her childhood in a 1950s orphanage to her rise to stardom on the competitive chess circuit, combating sexism and people's expectations of her along the way. As Taylor-Joy put it, it was a priority to have Beth feel more confident than society might have wanted her to be at the time.
"I think it was genuinely fascinating and wonderful to me that Beth is so outside of society, that she's genuinely baffled by the fact that people talk about her gender, and not like the incredible play she just made," Taylor-Joy explained. "I think like that level of comfort in your own ability was something that I really enjoyed playing. I think it's important, not just as a performer, but as a human being, to be aware of history. But it felt pretty good to sort of walk up and go, 'I'm aware of all of this stuff. It does not pertain to this character. I'm gonna let it go,' and just sort of like show up and do my stuff."
The Queen's Gambit also stars Marielle Heller as Alma Wheatley, Moses Ingram as Jolene, Harry Melling as Harry Beltnik, and Thomas Brodie-Sangster as Benny. The miniseries will be released on Friday, October 23rd, exclusively on Netflix.