In a recent interview with Vanity Fair (via The Playlist) about his acclaimed new Netflix movie Roma at the Telluride Film Festival, the Oscar-winning director of Gravity said that early in his career, he got chided for being “arrogant” by del Toro when Cuarón mentioned he was going in for the third Harry Potter movie with a note of derision in his voice.
“I hadn’t read the books or seen the films,” Cuarón said in the interview. “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.”
Cuarón did indeed go get the first four books—all that had been released at the time—and called del Toro back to say how much he enjoyed them. “When he talks to you like that,” Cuarón said, “well, you have to go to the bookshop.” Cuarón did, of course, go on to direct Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, taking the reins of the Wizarding World from Chris Columbus. Whether it’s your favorite film in the series or your least favorite, you have to admit it was a completely new take on the visual landscape of the movies, and had a style of its own, infusing some real terror.
After his breakout success in 2001’s Y Tu Mama Tambien, Cuarón was getting tons of offers, and had del Toro not shamed him for being a Potter-hater, he might not have directed what is in this writer’s humble opinion the best of the eight Potter movies. “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?”
You can read the rest of the fascinating and in-depth interview with Alfonso Cuarón here, and you can only hope you get sworn at by Guillermo del Toro.
Image: Warner Brothers