Alfonso Cuaron recalls how Guillermo del Toro convinced him to accept the offer to direct Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. One of the most successful movie franchises of all time with an accumulated $7.7 billion in box office sales all over the world, the eight-film franchise follows J.K. Rowling's best-selling novels of the same name.
Perhaps the most popular film (and book) in the franchise, The Prisoner of Azkaban was so well-loved because it's among the rare novel to big-screen adaptations that were actually able to effectively translate the narrative's essence despite the movie's limited runtime. The third movie in the series, it's also dubbed the most aesthetically pleasing out of all eight entries, which adds to its rewatchability value. But as it turns out, Cuaron wasn't really keen on helming the flick when it was first offered to him.
Speaking with Vanity Fair, Cuaron opened up about his career, including his experience in directing The Prisoner of Azkaban. He recalls how he eventually agreed to take the opportunity after being initially skeptical about it and he credits del Toro for changing his mind to do the gig:
I talked with Guillermo, as I always do, and he says, “What’s happening? Any projects going on?” And I said, “I’m going for Harry Potter, can you believe it? And I even made fun of it. I hadn’t read the books or seen the films. And then he looks upset with me. He called me flaco, that means skinny [in English]. He says, “F***in’ skinny, have you read the books?” I said, “No, I haven’t read the books.” He says, “F***in’ skinny, you’re such a f***in’ arrogant bastard. You are going right now to the f***in’ bookshop and get the books and you’re going to read them and you call me right away.” When he talks to you like that, well, you have to go to the bookshop. At that time, the fourth book had just come out. And I read the first two, and I was halfway through the third, [and] that was the one they had offered me. And I called him and said, “Well the material’s really great.” He says, “Well, you see you f***in’ ...” I mean, it’s just untranslatable from the Spanish.... As a filmmaker, it was almost like a lesson of humility, of saying how am I going to do it my own, but at the same time, respecting what has been beloved in those couple of movies?"
What's interesting about this is that del Toro was also offered a shot at directing a Harry Potter film which he turned down, a decision he still regrets. While it's unclear which one from the eight films in the franchise he was offered to do, at one point he was rumored to be in talks to helm The Prisoner of Azkaban. However, considering that the Shape of Water helmer was all for his pal directing the said film, chances are that he was offered one of the first two movies - Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (2001) and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002), both directed by Chris Columbus.
Many would be thrilled to see what del Toro would be able to do within the Harry Potter franchise, considering his penchant for dark fantasy pieces, which is exactly what Rowling and Warner Bros. are going for via the Fantastic Beasts films. The first two films in the prequel continuity, 2016's Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them and the forthcoming Fantastic Beasts and the Crimes of Grindelwald are both directed by David Yates, who also helmed the last four films in the main saga. Yates is expected to direct the remaining three films in the Fantastic Beasts series, but perhaps if the Harry Potter universe continues to grow, del Toro could call the shots on a different spinoff.
Source: Vanity Fair
- Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald/Fantastic Beasts 2 (2018) release date: Nov 16, 2018