Alfonso Cuarón said that he almost passed on directing 2004's Harry and the Prisoner of Azkaban, until fellow director Guillermo del Toro talked him into doing it, according to Total Film.

On the 20th anniversary of the movie, Cuarón spoke to the entertainment website about how he reacted about the job offer since he wasn't originally familiar with the world.

“I was confused because it was completely not on my radar,” he said, mostly because the movie he directed before the boy wizard was in a completely different genre, the 2001 Spanish-language drama Y Tu Mamá También.

“I speak often with Guillermo [del Toro], 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 continued.

Alfonso Cuarón got some sense knocked into him by Guillermo del Toro

However, unlike his friend, del Toro knew how huge the franchise was, especially after Chris Colombus' first two films, 2001's Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and the next year's Chamber of Secrets. The filmmaker gave Cuarón blunt advice.

“He said, ‘Wait, wait, wait, you said you haven't read Harry Potter?' I said, ‘I don't think it's for me,'” the Academy Award winner said about the conversation.

“In very florid lexicon, in Spanish, he said, ‘You are an arrogant asshole,'” the director continued.

Even though Cuarón didn't think he was the right filmmaker for the movie, producer of all eight Harry Potter films David Heyman said he wanted to go outside the box for Prisoner of Azkaban.

“I'd seen Y Tu Mamá También, which I loved, and I oddly thought he'd be the perfect director for the third Potter,” the producer explained.

“That's not what some might think,” he added.

“Can you imagine what some thought Harry, Ron and Hermione would get up to, having seen Y Tu Mamá También?… Y Tu Mamá was about the last moments of being a teenager, and Azakaban was about the first moments of being a teenager. I felt he could make the show feel, in a way, more contemporary. And just bring his cinematic wizardry,” Heyman continued.

What is it about Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban?

Harry Potter, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

While Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban earned the lowest in the worldwide box office, it still grossed $807 million against a $130 million budget. However, it  received the second highest Tomatometer at 90%, second only to the final movie's rating at 96%.

While it may have been two decades ago, I remember the Prisoner of Azkaban quite well. The second movie was released a year after the first, while Azkaban two years later. When I saw the trailer, I remember being shocked at how grown-up all the characters looked.

In the first and second movies, Harry, Hermione and Ron definitely looked like the children they were. In the third, they were teenagers — to me, they looked older than the 13-year-olds they should've been. Which made sense because in 2004, Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter) was 15, Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley) 16 and Emma Watson (Hermione Granger) 14 when the movie came out.

Azkaban also marked a huge change in tone: it was darker and introduced the audience to the Dementors and the other titular character, Sirius Black.

I think the change in tone was one of the biggest reasons the movie didn't perform as well as the others. Before the third film, the Harry Potter movies were geared towards children. I don't think parents had a problem with taking their children to movies where the scariest things were fictional monsters. However, when you introduce real-world factors such as prison and ex-convicts, that may have been a touch too far for them.

But in my opinion, Azkaban did the job it was supposed to: pave the way for the rest of the stories to tackle darker themes and prepare the audience to accept that the danger they may be facing isn't just fictional, but real this time around.

A reboot of the Harry Potter world is set to debut on Max in 2026.