Netflix's Maestro NY DGA Bonus Screening & Q&A, at The SVA Theater, December 15, 2023©GettyImages
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Alfonso Cuarón reflects on his unlikely role as director of the third Harry Potter film

Cuarón recounted a pivotal conversation with his close friend and fellow filmmaker, Guillermo del Toro that changed his perspective

In a recent interview with Total Film, commemorating the 20th anniversary of “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban,” director Alfonso Cuarón shared his disbelief at being selected to direct the third installment of the beloved wizarding series. Renowned for his critically acclaimed works like “Children of Men” and “Y Tu Mamá También,” Cuarón’s appointment for the Harry Potter franchise was a curveball.

“I was confused because it was completely not on my radar,” Cuarón admitted, recalling his initial reaction to being offered the job. Coming off the success of his erotic road-trip masterpiece, for him, the transition to a magical world aimed primarily at younger audiences seemed improbable.

"Gravity" Ten Year Anniversary Screening - Q&A With Alfonso Cuarón©GettyImages

Cuarón recounted a pivotal conversation with his close friend and fellow filmmaker, Guillermo del Toro that changed his perspective. “I speak often with Guillermo, and a couple of days after, I said, ‘You know, they offered me this Harry Potter film, but it’s really weird they offer me this,’” Cuarón said. Del Toro’s response was direct and colorful: “Wait, wait, wait, you said you haven’t read Harry Potter?‘ I said, ’I don’t think it’s for me.‘ In very florid lexicon, in Spanish, he said, ‘You are an arrogant a--hole.’”

This blunt advice prompted Cuarón to reconsider. Del Toro’s passionate endorsement and the realization that he had not given the series a fair chance led Cuarón to dive into J.K. Rowling’s books. The rest, as they say, is history. Cuarón brought a darker, more mature tone to “The Prisoner of Azkaban,” which was a significant departure from the previous two films. His unique vision was met with critical acclaim and is often regarded as one of the best in the series.

91st Annual Academy Awards - Backstage©GettyImages

As Cuarón reflects on his path, his initial doubt and eventual acceptance of the project underscore the unpredictable nature of creative opportunities. As “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” commemorates its 20th anniversary since its New York City premiere, fans and critics laud Cuarón’s unique imprint on the enchanting world of Harry Potter.

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