As news broke in late July that Mike Newell (''Four Weddings and a Funeral'') was a leading candidate to direct Warner Bros.' fourth Harry Potter film, EW was on the London set of the third Potter opus, watching director Alfonso Cuarón (Y Tu Mamá También) put a magical tree through the paces of attacking Harry's redheaded buddy, Ron. ''Actually,'' quips the auteur, ''I heard Todd Solondz was doing the next one.'' Yes, he's joking: The man who made the creepy indie ''Happiness'' won't be helming ''Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.''
As for Newell, both sides have just started formal talks. And, says Cuarón, ''It was always only 'Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban' for me. I never thought [seriously] about continuing.'' Though he was approached about doing ''HP4,'' prepping ''Goblet'' (slated for 2005) while finishing ''Azkaban'' (coming out next June) seemed too daunting. ''Frankly,'' says Cuarón, smiling impishly, ''I'm extremely lazy.'' Still, he dreads bidding adios to ''Potter'' stars Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint. ''That will be very painful,'' he says. ''They're growing fantastically as actors. But it's up to the next director to enjoy them.''