Who plays Benny on The Queen’s Gambit?

The Queen’s Gambit is the latest must-watch Netflix show soothing our quarantine blues. Led by the enigmatic Anya Taylor-Joy as chess prodigy Beth, the somewhat nerdy series has proven surprisingly popular in spite of its ostensibly dry subject matter. Currently sitting at a whopping 100 percent on reviews aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the show is clearly making all the right moves, if you’ll forgive the chess pun. Much of its success is, naturally, down to the brilliant Taylor-Joy.

Her rival/love interest Benny, however, gives as good as he gets. Dressed a bit like a young Indiana Jones, as Vulture noted in a piece hilariously entitled “What Is a Chess Pirate and Why Do We Need One?,” he’s the closest thing the show has to a suave, swashbuckling bad boy. As shocking as it might sound, actor Thomas Brodie-Sangster enjoyed another breakout role when he was just a tot, and you’ll definitely remember it. 

Thomas Brodie-Sangster was always the cute kid

Thomas Brodie-Sangster’s career began all the way back in 2001 was just 11, with several TV roles quickly filling up his resume. But it was his delightful turn in a little movie called Love Actually that really put the youngster on the map. The diminutive Brit played the stepson of Liam Neeson’s grieving father who, as you probably recall, becomes a drummer to impress the most popular girl in school before chasing her through the airport in a sweet, childlike spin on a classic rom-com trope.

In the years since, Brodie-Sangster has diversified in a big way, playing Sir Paul McCartney in Nowhere Boy, as well as appearing in the The Maze Runner series and, of course, as Jojen Reed in Game of Thrones. In a 2015 interview with Evening Standard, he admitted his soft features were often an impediment, explaining, “I wanted to play the evil kid who looks at you and blood spurts out. I was always the cute kid.” 

The Queen's Gambit star is a serious actor these days

Thomas Brodie-Sangster recently took a well-deserved two year hiatus from the biz, telling NME he simply wanted to “chill out and focus on other things.” The actor admitted to feeling “a bit rusty” when The Queen’s Gambit came along, “but I also left feeling like ‘I can’t wait for the next job!'” Then, COVID-19 happened and suddenly the world shut down, forcing him back into a life without work. Still, it was one of his most challenging roles to date, not least because the young Brit was tasked with growing some impressive facial fuzz to portray Benny.

The specter of Love Actually still looms large for Brodie-Sangster, but he is effusive about the oft-criticized festive favorite, gushing, “It’s a little bit cheesy and it’s a little bit unrealistic sometimes and the score is really lovey-dovey, but it follows several different paths and different people and different ways in which people can all find love. I think there’s something beautifully simple about that.”

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