Will director Alfonso Cuaron return to the Potter franchise? Though working on other projects, ''I haven't ruled it out,'' he says

In 2004, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban became a not-so-surprise hit with fans, critics, and especially Warner Bros., which invited — you might even say begged — director Alfonso Cuarón to return to work on Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. The Mexican-born filmmaker declined, explaining that he was eager to move on to other projects. (The Goblet job eventually went to Mike Newell.)

But now, nearly two years later, Cuarón might be ready to return to Hogwarts after all.

”The most beautiful two years of my life were on [Azkaban],” says Cuarón, who, prior to donning his wizard’s hat, was most famous for 2002’s Oscar-nominated raunchy romp Y Tu Mamá También. ”The attraction to Harry Potter — not just the movie franchise, but the J.K. Rowling books — is that it’s surrounded by this beneficial energy. So there is a temptation to revisit that. I haven’t ruled it out. On the other hand,” he continues, ”nobody knows what the last book is going to be.”

In the meantime, Cuarón is keeping plenty busy in the Muggle world. This month, he and his company Esperanto Films are partnering with Warner Independent Pictures to distribute the critically adored Duck Season, a Mexican indie comedy about two teenage boys, an Xbox, some pizza, and un poco de pot. ”I saw it in Cannes [in 2004] and fell in love,” says Cuarón, who immediately sought out Season‘s 35-year-old writer-director Fernando Eimbcke. Endorsing struggling films is something Cuarón would like to continue in the future. ”There are a lot of amazing ‘orphaned’ [movies] out there, and sometimes all they need is sponsorship,” he explains. Plus, says the 44-year-old filmmaker, ”There’s a point in your life where you start looking to be pushed by the younger generation’s energy. It’s the only way of keeping yourself relevant.”

Well, maybe not the only way. Cuarón recently wrapped Children of Men, a futuristic drama dealing with human reproduction, starring Clive Owen, Julianne Moore, and Michael Caine and due next fall.

Despite reports to the contrary, Cuarón is not involved in the big-screen adaptation of Yann Martel’s supernatural novel Life of Pi. (Amelie‘s Jean-Pierre Jeunet is steering that ship — ”a fantastic choice,” Cuarón says.) But he is producing his pal Guillermo del Toro’s (Hellboy) Spanish-language mind-warp Pan’s Labyrinth, which he jokingly calls ”an excuse to talk to Guillermo more often…. I depend on [him and] Alejandro,” Cuarón explains, referring to another friend and frequent collaborator, 21 Grams director Alejandro González Iñárritu. ”We mess with each other’s scripts, we mess with each other’s cuts,” Cuarón says. ”And the amazing thing is that our films are so different — we could not be more different from one another. So it’s a codependence, and we feel very lucky.”