''Potter'' saga turns dark on the set of ''Azkaban.'' Harry goes punk, Hermione goes hormonal, and director Cuaron goes political

By EW Staff
Updated July 28, 2003 at 04:00 AM EDT

Under the direction of Alfonso Cuarón, the ”Harry Potter” saga is taking a darker, sexier, even more political turn in ”Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban,” Newsweek reports from the film’s set. Though he’s best known for ”Y Tu Mamá También,” the road movie about two horny teens for which he earned an Oscar nomination (he also directed the child-friendly ”A Little Princess”), Cuarón hasn’t sexed up the ”Potter” franchise. But he hasn’t had to, since the hormones of the young actors are doing it for him. ”You just have to let it flow,” he says. ”You don?t need to encourage it. You allow it to be. And believe me, they have a lot of it.” (Emma Watson, who plays Hermione, has posted on her dressing room door a sign that says, ”Beware: Babe Inside.”)

To get into the mindset of an alienated teenage Harry, Daniel Radcliffe is listening to the Sex Pistols, the Strokes, and the Dandy Warhols, and he’s watching such bleak film classics as ”The Bicycle Thief” and ”The 400 Blows.” Newsweek describes the new Dumbledore, as played by Michael Gambon (replacing the late Richard Harris), as ”an elegant old hippie.”

Cuarón says he finds parallels between some of the shadier adult characters and real-life contemporary Muggle world leaders. Villain Voldemort reminds the director of George W. Bush, ”in combination with Saddam,” he tells Newsweek. ”They both have selfish interests and are very much in love with power. Also, a disregard for the environment. A love for manipulating people. I read books four and five, and [Minister of Magic] Fudge is similar to Tony Blair. He’s the ultimate politician. He’s in denial about many things. And everything is for the sake of his own persona, his own power. The way the Iraq thing was handled was not unlike the way Fudge handled affairs in book four.”

Newsweek reports that pubescent stars Radcliffe, Watson, and Rupert Grint (who plays Ron Weasley) are expected to return for the fourth installment, ”Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.” Cuarón will not, however. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Warner Bros. and Mike Newell (”Four Weddings and a Funeral”) are keen to work together on ”Goblet.” That would make Newell the first Brit to helm the veddy English franchise.

Episode Recaps

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

  • Movie
  • PG
  • 141 minutes
  • Alfonso Cuarón