Close to a year since it debuted on Netflix and became the streamer’s most watched limited series with 62 million households worldwide, femme trailblazing chess drama The Queen’s Gambit finally won the ultimate prize: the Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Limited or Anthology Series.
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The Queen’s Gambit was already leading at the Creative Arts Emmys with a total of nine wins, making the series’ nabbing of the top trophy a no-brainer prior to the show. Still, HBO’s Mare of Easttown was breathing down the Queen’s neck all night with wins for Kate Winslet, Evan Peters and Julianne Nicholson. Earlier in the night, Queen’s Gambit saw Scott Frank win for Best Directing for a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie.
Taking the mic alongside the cast and Frank, Queen’s Gambit EP William Horberg beamed: “The one thing that no algorithm can predict, that no billion-dollar budget can manufacture is word of mouth. This award is for the fans who told their friends and who became fans who told their friends, ‘Dude, you gotta watch the orphan girl chess drama.’ ”
In his list of thanks, Horberg gave a shoutout to Netflix: “You did the rarest thing of all these days, you took a chance on risky material and you trusted the filmmakers.”
And to Anya Taylor-Joy, Horbergs said: “What can I say? You brought the sexy back to chess, and you inspired a whole generation of girls and young women to realize that patriarchy has no defense against our queens,” which drew applause from those in the room.
Bringing the Walter Tevis-penned novel about a young chess-playing, drug-addicted genius who takes the globe by storm in the 1960s was a decades-long uphill battle. Allan Scott was attached to the property for 30 years, with Horberg joining him to develop 20 years ago as a film. The latter producer of Cold Mountain and The Talented Mr. Ripley believed that Frank was the guy to adapt the material; it was during Horberg’s 1980s executive days at Paramount when he first met Frank.
While Queen’s Gambit star Taylor-Joy’s star was already on the rise in movies like M. Night Shyamalan’s Glass and Split, the Netflix series took the British-Argentine-American actress to a whole other stratosphere. Not only is she starring in Edgar Wright’s next movie Last Night in Soho, but she’s also the lead of George Miller’s Mad Max spinoff feature Furiosa which is expected to be the biggest Australian production ever next year with an injection of $254M to the local economy and 850 jobs being created.
“A movie would have lost what makes Queen’s Gambit special, which is this character, her perseverance, coming-of-age and emotional growth. It’s that journey through seven episodes which resonates so deeply with people,” Horberg told us earlier this year.
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