Marielle Heller interview: ‘The Queen’s Gambit’

“I could imagine what it would be like as woman who couldn’t follow her dream and artistic pursuits,” reveals Marielle Heller about her role on “The Queen’s Gambit.” She joined us for a recent webchat and adds, “It made me feel really lucky for the era I live in and my own life. I could easily imagine what that would feel like with these unrequited dreams and ideas of who you could have been.” Watch the exclusive video interview above.

“The Queen’s Gambit” is a Netflix limited series that follows the rise of chess prodigy Beth Harmon (Anya Taylor-Joy), during the Cold War. Heller plays Alma, who adopts Beth from an orphanage and acts as manager as the teen begins her chess career. The actress explains, “Alma has this deep pain, but there’s also restraints of the era. She keeps herself buttoned up on top of that pain. Playing those two layers against each other, was the part I wanted to get right. I wanted to let those tiny, tiny moments reveal the cracks in her façade.”

Heller admits, “There’s something about the two women that are very lonely. Neither really knows how to open up to another person. If Alma was more traditional or warm, Beth would have been like, ‘argh.’ If Beth was needier, it would have been too much for Alma. They met each other where they were, and let each other be who they were. It takes time to build their loving relationship but then it’s more genuine. It comes from a place of respect.”

The actress has also directed the Oscar-nominated films “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” (2018) and “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” (2019). Acting on “Queen’s Gambit” she confesses, “I was most nervous about having to play the piano, because I don’t play the piano. I really wanted it to look authentic, because I’ve directed movies where people play the piano before. I had Tom Hanks play the piano in ‘Neighborhood.’ So I just had a thing in my head about making it not look fakey. I was stuck on that. I spent all this time taking piano lessons, and then you never really see my hands.”

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UPLOADED May 27, 2021 7:17 pm