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Surprising Behind-The-Scenes Facts About ‘Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban’

Updated February 9, 2021 14.5k votes 2.6k voters 264.7k views16 items

List RulesVote up the 'Azkaban' film facts that whip your brain around like the Knight Bus.

You most likely know everything that happens in the Harry Potter books, the movies, and on Pottermore. You're probably the type of person that could crush at canonical HP trivia - but how much do you know about what was happening behind the scenes while filming Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Two significant changes rocked the Harry Potter series at the start of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Behind the camera, Alfonso Cuarón replaced Chris Columbus as the director, and on screen, Michael Gambon took over as Dumbledore for Richard Harris. Cuarón's directing changed the tone of the films in a big way, helping the series grow up with both the maturing cast members and fans in the audience.  

Read on and discover the moments that created your favorite on-camera quotes and scenes.

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    Gary Oldman Felt The Need To Live Up To Daniel Radcliffe's Expectations Of Him

    In a world with the saying, "Don't meet your heroes," actually being someone's hero must be a lot of pressure. 

    While filming Prisoner of Azkaban, Gary Oldman knew the child actors looked up to him, and it was important to him to live up to that. With that said, it seems to have gone the other way, as well, and Daniel Radcliffe really impressed Oldman. Oldman describes him as "very dedicated, serious... and focused."

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    Director Alfonso Cuarón Restrained His Cursing Around The Kids In English, But Not In Spanish

    If you cuss in Spanish, with only English-speaking children listening, does it really count? 

    Prisoner of Azkaban director Alfonso Cuarón apparently thought it didn't, as he often used Spanish curse words as his way of cleaning up his language around his child actors. Not to say this backfired, but it did cause the children to pick up a Spanish-cussing habit of their own, or at the very least, start to recognize many of the words the director was using. 

    Cuarón may have watched his language around the children, but other than that, he worked very hard to treat his young performers like adults and not patronize them. This approach worked, as this film was seen as a step up in the acting talents of the three leads. 

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    Gary Oldman Taught Daniel Radcliffe To Play A Beatles Song On Bass Guitar

    It's not that everything about Daniel Radcliffe's life is better than yours; it's just that while you learned bass guitar from a crusty man at a run-down music shop, he was taught a couple of songs by character-acting legend Gary Oldman. Specifically, Oldman taught the young wizard the bass line to the Beatles' "Come Together."

    Radcliffe describes his time on set as a joy, and between Alan Rickman playing pranks on him and Oldman giving him music lessons, it sounds like it was. 

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    Ian McKellen Turned Down The Idea Of Replacing Actor Richard Harris As Dumbledore Because Harris Had Criticized His Acting

    Photo: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone / Warner Bros. Pictures

    While Gandalf certainly deserves to run a wizarding school, Sir Ian McKellen didn't feel he himself was cut out to be Dumbledore. 

    Or, rather, Richard Harris didn't think McKellen was cut out to be Dumbledore. In a story that has been told and retold in various ways, McKellen turned down the role of Dumbledore because Richard Harris, the actor who had previously played the character, had publicly criticized Ian McKellen's acting ability. McKellen spoke on the situation in an interview, saying, "I couldn't take over the part from an actor who I had known didn't approve of me." 

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