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Harry Potter & The Prisoner of Azkaban - Alfonso Cuarón and Chris Columbus



Compiled by: Jack Foley

Q. How did it feel to be the new boy? You’ve been described as a teenager at heart, was that a factor?
A.
I guess teenagers recognise teenagers. From the moment I read the material I connected with it. The film is about a kid who is seeking his identity as a teenager and I knew I could make that.
I was amused rather than surprised.

Q. This film is notably more darker than the first two. Did you ever find yourself having to reign yourself in, or were you perhaps encouraged to go for it more?
A.
From the get go, I was set up to serve the material and the story itself evolves in that way. There is an evolution between the first and second, but now the real darkness comes out, as Harry perceives the world around him changing….

Q. The film contains a very English atmosphere about it. Did you find that difficult, haling from Mexico?
A.
The ‘British-ness’ was very easy because it is so obvious in the material. I inherited a universe that already existed; it comes through in the films and in what Chris had already put together. In fact, I had it pretty easy, so I sort of came here to have fun.
Chris had to get the kitchen, find the food, and the ingredients, etc, and when I arrived it was all there. I even had the chef who prepared the previous meal telling me what to do.
So by serving the material, I was coming from a very comfortable starting point.

Chris Columbus

Q. How does it feel to be the ex-director on this project? Was there a sense of relief, or jealousy?
A.
Relief, actually. I needed to get out for my own sanity. And I have a great deal of admiration for what Alfonso has done. It was actually great to take a step back, as producer, and watch the work of another director, and it became a learning experience for me. Alfonso did a wonderful job, especially in terms of the performances.
I only got frustrated being on set, because no director likes being on another person’s set. But my main concern, in searching for a director, was finding someone who would bond with the kids. And I was certain they would be in good hands.

Q. Will there be a different director with every movie?
A.
We developed a lot of good will with the first two movies, while setting things up, so while certain parents thought the films were too long, the kids wanted more, and it was a delicate balancing act. With the third film, it felt like the right time to stream line and condense it, so I would assume that the philosophy will now stay the same.
There was always a fantasy list of directors - Scorsese, Coppola, Alfonso, although I’m not sure Oliver Stone would fit in. But I’m sure that David Heyman [producer] will carry that along, and it will be a new director each time. Mike Newell is currently directing the fourth one, and I think we all want to see his vision for it.

Q. Would you ever be tempted back to direct another one?
A.
That would only be to work with these people again. These guys have grown so much throughout the films and they are now more confident. I sort of watch them as a proud parent.

Q. How important was it for you to get Michael Gambon in the role of Dumbledore?
A.
It was very important, actually, because the last time I ever saw Richard Harris, while he was in hospital, he told me, ‘don’t ever fucking think about re-casting me’, so it added a tremendous amount of pressure. But the idea that Michael would even consider taking on the role was, for me, an honour, and he subsequently enlivened the spirit of Dumbledore and brought his own qualities to it.
He added the Irish accent, which, I think, works as a nice homage, and I think Richard would be proud of what he has done with the character, which is the highest compliment I can pay.

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