(Photo: Mike Coppola/Getty Images)

Guillermo Del Toro’s cinematic comings and goings (mostly the latter, these days) are a subject of constant discourse and vigil here at The A.V. Club. For example, when Legendary passes on both the director and his Pacific Rim 2 script, we have to wonder how invested we are in a sequel without the creator of that kaijus-and-robots world (okay, so John Boyega buoyed our interest a bit). And when Del Toro and Ron Perlman give up on Hellboy 3, we die a little inside as we prepare another marker for the graveyard of the director’s projects. That’s why we greeted the news that Del Toro turned down a Harry Potter directing gig with a mixture of grief and relief—you know, because at least that time, it was his choice, and not the result of some shadowy forces working against him.

While at the Annecy Festival recently, Del Toro let slip that he’d declined the opportunity to helm one of the film adaptations of J.K. Rowling’s ever-popular book series, which celebrates the 20-year anniversary of its first book today. It’s one of the few missed opportunities in his career, he says: “The only one [I regret] is Harry Potter. Now and then I go, ‘Oh, fuck.’” It’s a loss for both Del Toro and his fans, as well as Potterheads. The Pan’s Labyrinth director has repeatedly demonstrated how well he balances horror and fantasy, whimsy and danger, in filmography. Basically, it feels like a match made in whatever gorgeous yet twisted heaven Del Toro could create.

CinemaBlend speculates the film Del Toro was up for was Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban, which actually went to his pal and fellow Mexican director Alfonso Cuarón. That film, the third in the series, is arguably the franchise’s high point, and is decidedly darker than its predecessors, which could be chalked up to the source material as much as Cuarón’s aesthetic. Either way, it’s a damn shame.