Beth Harmon in The Queen's Gambit playing a tournament in Las Vegas. COURTESY OF NETFLIX © 2020
Beth Harmon in The Queen’s Gambit playing a tournament in Las Vegas. COURTESY OF NETFLIX © 2020

If you’re wondering where The Queen’s Gambit was filmed and what the real-life filming locations are for the popular miniseries on Netflix, you’ll be surprised. The Queen’s Gambit just won two Golden Globe awards for Best Television Motion Picture and Best Television Motion Picture Actress for Anya Taylor-Joy.  The Queen’s Gambit is based on a book of the same name by Walter Tevis and follows the plot of the book closely (Beth’s substance addiction is more extreme in the television show and she does visit New York City a few more times).

In the series, Beth goes to New York City once while training for with Benny Watts, and you’ll see in this article how they filmed it. A lot of the primary locations are filmed in Berlin in historic locations but made to feel like different cities through the gorgeous sets designed by Uli Hanisch, but other filming locations take place in the Western Hemisphere as well.  Anya Taylor-Joy, who plays the main character Beth Harmon, says in a Netflix Behind the Scenes video, “The show really shifts along with Beth’s perspective. Every time I got to go on to a new set, I was always completely blown away by the way that it looked.”

Beth Harmon in The Queens Gambit in Mexico City
Beth Harmon plays a tournament in Mexico City. Photo courtesy Netflix

Writer and director Scott Frank (who also directed the Netflix miniseries Godless, starring Michelle Dockery) says that shooting took place primarily in Berlin because he wanted to work specifically with Hanisch whom he calls a “genius.” Berlin also has a diverse range of architecture, with everything between Neoclassical and Soviet-style Communist due to its history divided between east and west.

Frank reveals, “We shot Mexico City here, Las Vegas and Paris, Russia, pieces of New York and Lexington, Kentucky [in Berlin]. Uhrich explains some of the process: “What Beth does is traveling and playing chess at tournaments and so we have [sic] hotel rooms, airplanes, hotel lobbies, restaurants, ballroom kind of situation for each tournament, so it was our target to repeat but to make it different.” 

1. New York City

Benny Watt's apartment in The Queen's Gambit
Thomas Brodie Sangster as Benny Watts with Harry Melling as Harry Beltik. Photo: PHIL BRAY/NETFLIX © 2020

When Beth goes to New York City to train with Benny Watts (played by Thomas Brodie-Sangster), the exterior location is filmed in Toronto. Eagle-eye New Yorkers will recognize that the typology of the townhouses shown are not quite like those in New York City, but it’s close. The interior is a set designed by Uhrich in Berlin. Frank says of that basement set: “That was amazing and right away I started changing the scene because of so many good things in the set.” In the book, Beth goes to New York City early in her chess career to play tournaments there, but in the show she goes for the first time to train with Benny.