Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban director Alfonso Cuarón learned the hard way: You don’t dismiss the idea of working on Harry Potter when hanging around Guillermo Del Toro, or admit you haven’t read or seen any of the series. Because you will get yelled at. A lot.
In an interview with Vanity Fair, Children of Men and Gravity director Cuarón shared a memory of how he first came onboard Prisoner of Azkaban, one of the standout films in the Harry Potter series. The filmmaker was fresh off the surprise hit of Y Tu Mamá También, and had been offered the director’s chair for the next Harry Potter movie. He discussed the possible project with friend and fellow filmmaker Del Toro, and made the mistake of admitting that not only did he know nothing about the series, but he thought it was kind of silly. Del Toro was not amused.
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.”
Of course, Cuarón went straight to the bookstore—you have to, when Del Toro demands it. This was right around the release of the fourth book, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Cuarón said he read through the first two and made it halfway through the third one—the one he ended up directing a film adaptation for—before deciding that he was onboard. “I called him and said, ‘Well the material’s really great.’ He says, ‘Well, you see you fucking...’ I mean, it’s just untranslatable from the Spanish,” Cuarón said.
So there you have it. Never talk shit about Harry Potter when in the presence of Guillermo Del Toro. You will have your culo flaco handed to you.