Heath Ledger Was So Obsessed With Chess He Wanted to Direct Queen’s Gambit With X-Men Star Way Before Anya Taylor-Joy Bagged Netflix Hit

Heath Ledger related with the script and the novel due to his own struggles with drug addiction as a teenager

Heath Ledger Was So Obsessed With Chess He Wanted to Direct Queen’s Gambit With X-Men Star Way Before Anya Taylor-Joy Bagged Netflix Hit


  • Heath Ledger was passionate about making a movie on the 1983 novel, The Queen's Gambit before it became a Netflix hit
  • Allen Scott revealed that when Ledger found out about the project he took the opportunity to direct the project after its initial directors left
  • He even envisioned Elliot Page in the lead role, that is now being played by Anya Taylor Joy
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Long before Netflix turned The Queen’s Gambit into a sensation, the seeds of the idea were sown. Heath Ledger desperately wanted to bring the story to life as a director with the help of the talented Elliot Page, who was then known as Ellen Page in the lead, back in 2008. The actor’s battle with addiction made him relate to the novel which was first published in 1983 and thus felt a compelling need to bring Beth Harmon on screen.


Thus, the creator of the blockbuster Netflix show, Allan Shiach revealed all the plans that Heath Ledger had made before his unfortunate and untimely death.

Heath Ledger
Heath Ledger

Also Read: “I knew he was gonna win an Oscar”: Joaquin Phoenix’s Terrifying Performance Convinced His Joker Co-Star That He Was the Perfect Heath Ledger Successor


Heath Ledger Wanted to Do The Queen’s Gambit With Elliot Page

Allan Shiach took charge of scripting The Queen’s Gambit movie back in the day, while directors Michael Apted and Bernardo Bertolucci joined initially along with Shiach who uses the pen name Allan Scott, but departed early in the process. Later, Heath Ledger expressed enthusiasm about directing the film adaptation, marking a series of notable shifts in the project’s creative journey.

In an interview with The Independent, the creator of the show revealed,

“Of the three of them I found Heath was the one I wanted to work with,–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 round to meeting up over it towards the end of last year.”

In addition to expressing a sincere desire to direct the project, he also delved into casting suggestions for the film. The actor pictured Elliot Page, formerly recognized as Ellen Page before his transition, as the ideal choice for the lead role.

Elliot Page
Elliot Page

Shiach further stated,

“We spent a lot of time over the last three months working on his vision,–I did draft after draft and he gave his input and we met several times in New York and here, where he was spending a lot of his time. We had got to the stage where we had sent the script to Ellen. 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.”

Despite all preparations being in place and the project on the verge of production, the world tragically lost Heath Ledger due prescription drug overdose in early 2008. This heartbreaking event indefinitely halted the progress of the project.

Also Read: “The role leaks into the man”: Morgan Freeman Debunks Theory That Romanticized Joker Actor Heath Ledger’s Death as Being Caused By Too Much Evil


What Inspired Heath Ledger to Direct The Queen’s Gambit

After immersing himself in both the script and the novel centered around the character Beth Harmon, Heath Ledger, who battled addiction in his youth, felt a profound connection to the story. Recognizing the importance of shedding light on this narrative, he considered himself the ideal candidate to explore the project’s essence to its deepest core as a director. Shiach in the same interview stated,

“Everyone knows Heath was a user of prescription drugs; and that he had addiction issues when he was a young man,–The movie business lost a real talent. I think he would have been an extraordinary director.”

Anya Taylor-Joy in The Queen's Gambit
Anya Taylor-Joy in The Queen’s Gambit

The mastermind behind the immensely popular Netflix series believed the actor would have been a perfect fit for the role. Consequently, he feels a profound sense of gratitude for being able to resurrect the project after so many years, finally breathing life into it once more in 2020, but this time in a series form.

All episodes of The Queen’s Gambit are available on Netflix.


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Written by Sampurna Banerjee

Articles Published: 818

Sampurna Banerjee, an ardent enthusiast of pop culture and movies, pours her passion into her role as a writer for FandomWire. With a penchant for Marvel, DC, and sitcoms, she has contributed over 400 articles, staying up-to-date to the entertainment industry's latest buzz. Moreover, she's penned over 300 articles for Animated Times and shared her work across several Instagram pages. Currently she is pursuing a Bachelor's degree in Computer Science from Calcutta University.