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One the most impressive television shows that has been released in 2020 has to be the new Netflix miniseries The Queen's Gambit. There is just something spectacular about the show's take on the story of a young chess prodigy balancing her rise to fame and glory (and world domination on the chess front) with more personal demons than anyone knows how to handle, and a lot of that has to do with the phenomenal cast.
And you, just like so many others, are probably wondering where you've seen the likes of Anya Taylor-Joy, Bill Camp, and Marielle Heller before. The truth is, The Queen's Gambit cast is made up of some of the best character actors and rising stars in Hollywood. Let's take a look, shall we?
Anya Taylor-Joy (Beth Harmon)
Leading things off is Anya Taylor-Joy, who's scene-stealing performance as the talented and tormented Beth Harmon lies front and center throughout The Queen's Gambit's narrative. Taylor-Joy's portrayal of the chess prodigy will undoubtedly go down as one of the roles that defines her career, but this isn't her first big role. Prior to the Netflix miniseries, Taylor-Joy appeared in Robert Eggers' 2015 supernatural horror film The Witch, which she followed up with performances in Barry and Split in 2016. She would go on to star in the titular role in the latest version of Emma as well the long-awaited release of The New Mutants, both in 2020. Taylor-Joy is also set to take on the role of Imperator Furiosa in George Miller's upcoming Mad Max prequel.
The role of young Beth is played by Isla Johnston, whose starring role in the "Openings" episode of The Queen's Gambit is her most notable to date. Before the Netflix series, Johnston appeared on the UK series Doctors and UK mini-series National Treasure: Kiri.
Bill Camp (Mr. Shaibel)
Bill Camp, who appears in The Queen's Gambit as Beth Harmon's chess instructor Mr. Shaibel, is one of those actors whose every film, television, and stage performance is worth checking out. And one of the best characteristics of Camp's craft is his dedication to his roles that goes so far that you no longer see the actor and just the character. This is especially true in the 2019 Mark Ruffalo-led legal drama Dark Waters where Camp puts on the thickest of thick West Virginia accents. I didn't know it was him until the movie was almost over. And whether Camp is playing Reverend John Hale in the 2016 broadway production of The Crucible to Gerald Ford in Vice to Howard Salomon in The Outsider earlier this year, he gives it his all and then some.
Marielle Heller (Alma Wheatley)
Alma Wheatley, one of the more frustrating yet oddly enjoyable characters in all of The Queen's Gambit, brings depth to the story and serves as one of the only supportive adults in Beth's early life. And with the character being able to bounce from a pit of despair to encouraging the young prodigy with ease, you'd think that Marielle Heller, the actress behind the character, would have dozens of credits to her name. And while it's true that Heller has appeared in movies like MacGruber, A Walk Among the Tombstones, and a few TV shows here and there, you'll recognize movies and shows she's directed over the years more than you would her face. In the past five years, Heller has directed The Diary of a Teenage Girl, Can You Ever Forgive Me?, and the 2019 Mister Rogers story A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.
Thomas Brodie-Sangster (Benny Watts)
Ever since making his feature-length film debut as the young hopeless romantic Sam in the 2003 holiday romantic comedy Love Actually, Thomas Brodie-Sangster has become one of the leading young faces in the industry, and his performance as Benny Watts in The Queen's Gambit only helps his case. His portrayal as the unorthodox chess phenom in the Netflix miniseries is just the latest in a long line of great showings by the young star, which include films like Nowhere Boy and The Maze Runner, as well as TV shows like Doctor Who, Godless, and probably most notably Game of Thrones where he played Jojen Reed, who helped Bran Stark reach the Three-Eyed Raven.
Harry Melling (Harry Beltik)
Harry Melling will probably forever be remembered for his portrayal of Dudley Dursley in the Harry Potter movies, but the actor's two Netflix projects — The Old Guard and The Queen's Gambit — make a strong case that Melling is more than just Harry's loathsome and spoiled cousin. Speaking of The Queen's Gambit, Melling's performance as Harry Beltik is one of the most refreshing of the entire series, and I honestly think that's because we have been conditioned to see him as a villain over the years, and his character is anything but that. Seeing Melling act in a friendly, supportive, and genuinely sincere manner as his character helps Beth reach the top of the game is something great.
Jacob Fortune-Lloyd (D.L. Townes)
Jacob Fortune-Lloyd, who does an exceptional job at bringing the character D.L. Townes to life throughout The Queen's Gambit, is one of the more unknown members of the cast, but that will soon change after absolutely killing it as Beth's fellow chess player who ends up being one of her most trusted and beloved friends. Prior to showing up in the new Netflix miniseries, Fortune-Lloyd appeared as a Sith fleet officer in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, various television programs like Medici Season 2 where he portrayed Francesco Salviati, and various productions with the Royal Shakespeare Company in 2015.
Moses Ingram (Jolene)
Moses Ingram is another relatively unknown star in the making thanks to her portrayal of Beth's best friend from the orphanage, Jolene, in The Queen's Gambit. Whether she's helping a young Beth out after the death of her mom to finding her later in life, Jolene constantly was there to offer support (even if it was tough love). Prior to landing the role on the hit Netflix miniseries, Ingram appeared in the 2018 short Candace. She is next slated to appear in Joel Coen's adaptation of William Shakespeare's Macbeth where she'll play Lady Macduff.
Chloe Pirrie (Alice Harmon)
We only see bits and pieces of Chloe Pirrie's portrayal of Beth's mother, Alice Harmon throughout The Queen's Gambit, but each glimpse in the doomed woman's final moments on Earth help us piece together Beth's upbringing and self-destructive qualities later in life. Pirrie is probably best known for her turn as Eileen Parker, the estranged wife of Prince Philip's best friend, Michael Parker, who files for divorce in The Crown Season 2. The pained expressions seen on Pirrie's face during the Royal scandal in the acclaimed Netflix drama, much like with her role in The Queen's Gambit show a level of emotion that is quite rare to see these days.
Marcin Dorocinski (Vasily Borgov)
For much of The Queen's Gambit, Marcin Dorocinski's Vasily Borgov is presented as this far-off threat sitting atop the world of chess. We know that Beth will have to face him to become the world champion, but to do so, she must face her own demons first. When we finally meet Dorocinski's Russian grand master, he presents himself in cold and calculated demeanor and comes off as the most formidable of chess opponents. Dorocinski is a star in his own right in his native Poland and has appeared in dozens of movies and television shows, including the 2012 BBC co-production of Spies of Warsaw and the Polish dub of Star Wars: The Force Awakens where he voiced Kylo Ren.
Christiane Seidel (Helen Deardorff)
We only see a little of Helen Deardorff, the headmistress of Methuen Home, in the early goings of The Queen's Gambit, but it's hard to forget the manner in which she treated a young and lost Beth. Christiane Seidel, the actress behind the role, is probably best known for her portrayal of Sigrid Mueller on the HBO crime drama Boardwalk Empire, but she has also had supporting roles on shows like Godless and Fosse/Verdon, as well as a one-off role on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.
Rebecca Root (Miss Lonsdale)
Rebecca Root appears in a few episodes of The Queen's Gambit as Miss Lonsdale, one of the teachers at the orphanage who is seen cutting Beth's hair in the first episode is later seen leading the girls in songs. Root, one of the few openly transgender actresses on mainstream, is probably best known for her role as Judy on the BBC sitcom Boy Meets Girl and her brief turn as Lili's nurse in the 2015 drama The Danish Girl.
Akemnji Ndifornyen (Mr. Ferguson)
Akemnji Ndifornyen appears briefly in the opening episode of The Queen's Gambit, but plays a pivotal role nonetheless. His character of Mr. Ferguson introduces Beth to the pills that would help her play chess in her head at night and set her on her path to greatness and addiction. Ndifornyen has appeared on the British medical soap opera Doctors, an episode of Law & Order: UK, and the BBC Three sketch comedy show Famalam, which he wrote, composed, and produced.
Patrick Kennedy (Allston Wheatley)
And then there's Patrick Kennedy, the man behind Allston Wheatley, Beth's absent adoptive father who comes off as one of the most detestable characters in all of The Queen's Gambit. Kennedy, a veteran television and film actor has done a little bit of everything over the years, including roles in War Horse, Downton Abbey, Mr. Holmes, and London Has Fallen, to name just a few. Kennedy has also had a successful theatre career, having appeared in multiple Shakespeare productions all over the world.
And that catches us up with the cast of The Queen's Gambit. If you've finished the series and still want more from your Netflix subscription, here's a list of everything coming to the streaming platform the rest of the year.