'The Queen's Gambit', starring Anya Taylor-Joy, has wound up being a major Netflix hit. And it's thanks to word of mouth more than anything else.
The series depicts how a young orphan is found to be a chess prodigy and shoots to stardom, while struggling with addiction issues. But it turns out that 'The Queen's Gambit' was originally going to be a feature film.
Screenwriter Scott Frank, whose credits include 'Minority Report', 'Out of Sight' and 'Logan', co-created the Netflix series with Allan Scott (the pen name of Scottish writer Allan Shiach).
Shiach optioned Walter Tevis’ 1983 novel that the show is based on back in 1992. At this stage, he was developing it as a feature film.
After penning the screenplay, directors Michael Apted and Bernardo Bertolucci boarded and subsequently left.
Then Heath Ledger approached Shiach to express his interest in helming 'The Queen's Gambit' movie.
A 2008 interview between Shiach and The Independent has resurfaced regarding Ledger's plans for the feature.
"Of the three [directors attached] I found Heath was the one I wanted to work with," Shiach told the publication at the time. "He was passionate about it; he was an intense, interested young man and I was drawn to him immediately."
Shiach indicated that the 'Dark Knight' Oscar winner may have been drawn to the 'Queen's Gambit' as he related to the protagonist Beth Harmon's addiction struggles.
He said: "Everyone knows Heath was a user of prescription drugs; and that he had addiction issues when he was a young man."
With Heath Ledger attached, the project became "commercially viable" and Ellen Page was attached to play Beth.
Tragically, Ledger passed away January 28th, 2008, months before filming was due to start on 'The Queen’s Gambit.' As a result, the movie went on hold.
Speaking of the actor's passing, Shiach said: "On a personal level I am incredibly sad. One is always sad to lose someone as a friend. But, what is more, the movie business lost a real talent. I think he would have been an extraordinary director."
'The Queen's Gambit' is streaming on Netflix now.