Anne Hathaway and James Franco's hosting at the 2011 Academy Awards made it to the headlines for all the wrong reasons. While it was weird enough to see their awkwardness on the screen, Oscar writers are now revealing that things were even worse behind the scenes.
The Academy was probably hoping that Franco and Hathaway's paring would entice a younger audience, but what happened on the stage was a disaster with awkwardness spilling from every word they said and everything they did. In a new interview, writers of the decade-old hosting gig confessed that the lack of chemistry between the pair was visible to all during the rehearsals as well.
David Wild, one of the 2011 Oscars' four main writers, told The Ringer: "It was like the world's most uncomfortable blind date between the cool rocker stoner kid and the adorable theater camp cheerleader."
Recalling one such example of their contrasting personalities, Wild said: "Again, this is a memory, but [she] was like 'Maybe you should try that,' and he was like, 'Don't tell me how to be funny.'" There was a moment of relief when the writers saw Franco smiling at Hathaway, but they later found out that the actress had gone to the dressing room and he was looking at her stand-in.
Megan Amram, another of the show's writers, revealed that the pair was supposed to perform musical numbers as well, but the plans were later scrapped. Franco also wanted to dress up as Cher and perform a duet with Hathaway from her musical film "Burlesque," but that was also cancelled when the movie didn't receive any Oscar nominations.
"The Disaster Artist" actor then dressed up as Marilyn Monroe from "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" and participated in an awkward banter with Hathaway who was in a suit. "A lot of stuff that made it into the show was written a few days beforehand. We wrote all these jokes, but I don't think we ever landed on a tone or a cohesive feeling of what the show would be," Amram recalled.
Hathaway discussed the event just a year later in a Hollywood Reporter roundtable chat, revealing that she went into it with a lot of trust and hope and had a blast doing it. She added that while it looks slightly manic and 'hyper-cheerleadery' onscreen, she has no regrets about doing it."
Franco also spoke about the criticism in an interview with New York Magazine in 2016, noting that the gig was an "adventure" and "experiment" for him but they got a "lot of s**t for it."
The pair had completely different energies on the stage, and some even claimed Franco might have been "under the influence" while hosting. When David Letterman asked him about it just a few days after the gig, Franco said: "Anne Hathaway is so energetic, I think the Tasmanian devil would look stoned standing next to Anne Hathaway."
Jordan Rubin, another of the head writers, confirmed in the recent interview that Franco probably doesn't even drink.