It’s impossible to overstate how massive Harry Potter’s influence has been on the cultural landscape. JK Rowling has built one of the most impressive and beloved fictional universes in the history of film and literature, as millions of fans around the world have fallen in love with this wonderful wizarding world, including, as it turns out, Academy Award-winning director Guillermo Del Toro.
In a recent interview with Vanity Fair, director Alfonso Cuarón revealed that his longtime friend and fellow director is a massive Potterhead who actually convinced Cuarón to sign on to direct Prisoner of Azkaban. Cuarón had just directed the surprise indie hit Y Tu Mamá También and had been offered the chance to direct the third Harry Potter film. The director was not familiar with the series and assumed it was just a bunch of silly kid’s stuff but he learned the dangers of not taking the Boy Who Lived seriously when he let Del Toro know that he might be directing the film.
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, “Fucking skinny, you’re such a fucking arrogant bastard. You are going right now to the fucking bookshop and get the books and you’re going to read them and you call me right away.”
Fortunately, Cuarón took Del Toro’s advice and headed to a bookstore and bought the first three Harry Potter books. By the time he was halfway through the third book, he was fully convinced. He even gave his buddy a call to let him know and Del Toro made sure to give Cuarón a little bit more shit for doubting the magic of Rowling.
“I called him and said, ‘Well the material’s really great,’” Cuarón said. “He says, ‘Well, you see you fucking…’ I mean, it’s just untranslatable from the Spanish.”
Potterheads should be grateful to Del Toro for insisting that his friend take this beloved series seriously. As the director of Azkaban, Cuarón is widely credited with elevating the movie series to new heights, with the third film often being cited as one of the best, if not the best of the eight films.