If you love Alfonso Cuarón’s work on Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, then you have Guillermo del Toro to thank. Cuarón came aboard the Hogwarts Express to direct the third Potter film — the first in the franchise not directed by Chris Columbus. The result was a very different wizarding experience — the movie felt a bit more grown up, much like the third Potter book itself.
In a new interview with Vanity Fair, Cuarón talks about how he ended up in the magical director's chair, where he brought a bold new direction (and some bold new camera angles) to the Potter saga. Cuarón had just finished his film Y Tu Mama Tambien, and was "reluctant" to grab some Floo Powder and jump in his fireplace. Ultimately, it was his good friend, colleague, and fantasy master Guillermo del Toro (Hellboy II, Pan's Labyrinth, The Shape of Water) who almost resorted to using an Imperius Curse on the man to get him to take his Hogwarts opportunity seriously.
According to Cuarón: "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]."
Guillermo wasn't even close to being finished. "He says, 'F**kin’ skinny, have you read the books?' I said, 'No, I haven’t read the books.' He says, 'F**kin’ skinny, you’re such a f**kin’ arrogant bastard. You are going right now to the f**kin’ bookshop and get the books and you’re going to read them and you call me right away.'" As his films already make perfectly clear, del Toro takes the fantasy genre very seriously. So Cuarón did exactly as he was ordered.
"When he talks to you like that, well, you have to go to the bookshop," said Cuarón. "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**kin’ ...' I mean, it’s just untranslatable from the Spanish..." It seems that after this, Cuarón was finally ready to mount his broom.
Cuarón goes on to say, "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?" It's an interesting viewpoint from him, because that's almost exactly what the film of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is. It certainly is a part of the series, and it honors what came before it — at the same time, it is definitely an Alfonso Cuarón affair.
Thankfully, it didn't take an unforgivable curse to get Cuarón where he was destined to be — it just took plenty of regular, uncensored (and sometimes untranslatable) curses from a close friend and colleague. Don't ever belittle fantasy in front of Guillermo del Toro — it might just be the last thing you ever do.
(via Vanity Fair)