At the time, the telecast was criticized for being cringe and lacking chemistry between the two performers who were doing just that while playing off of one another.
“It was like the world’s most uncomfortable blind date between the cool rocker stoner kid and the adorable theater camp cheerleader,” writer David Wild told The Ringer on Wednesday of the pair’s opening monologue in which the “Love & Other Drugs” star was subject to boasting from Franco for his best actor nomination for “127 Hours” while Hathaway was overlooked.
Wild went on to recall a moment way back when that spurred friction between the co-hosts after Hathaway – just 28 and the youngest host ever at the time – tried to offer up advice to Franco.
Another writer on the telecast said the moment rang parallel to each of the actors’ approach to the coveted hosting job.
“Anne made herself readily available,” Jordan Rubin said of the “Princess Diaries” star. “I went to her house and worked on the script and she was on a bunch of conference calls and responding to emails and was a great collaborator.”
Oscar writers reflected on James Franco and Anne Hathaway’s 2011 Oscars hosting gig, calling the ordeal an ‘uncomfortable blind date.’ (Reuters/Mike Blake)
On the flipside, Franco supposedly “always seemed to be on a flight and it was very hard for me to get a hold of him,” Rubin continued of the funnyman, who at the time was incredibly busy maintaining his acting career all while earning his graduate degree and working as an acting coach.
Viewers at the time speculated whether the “Pineapple Express” star was actually high during the telecast.
Hathaway was eager to get down to business, Rubin pressed, adding that the “Devil Wears Prada” star “showed up ready to play and committed 110%,” and although Rubin described Franco to be “a great guy,” he said Franco “often looked like he had just woken up from a nap.”
“It’s almost like you’re showing up to a tennis court and one person decided that they were going to play in the U.S. Open and the other wanted to play in jeans and just kind of hit a few balls,” Rubin explained.
Commenting on the supposed verbal spat that allegedly occurred between Franco and Hathaway during rehearsals, Rubin said he saw the situation as a moment where Franco purposely tried to provide a different element to Hathaway’s approach and hosting style.
“I think he wanted to play it as buddy-cop movie with two opposite characters,” said Rubin.
She also opened up on the difficulties of hosting Hollywood’s biggest night.
“[Franco] didn’t give me anything,” Hathaway told People in January 2019. “God, I just remember the night before we’re about to go up there, and me turning to everyone and going, ‘Am I too much? This feels really big to me.’ And the producer just went, ‘No! Don’t do less. Do more if you need to.’ And I was like, ‘Oh okay, I guess it’s going great.’ And I didn’t realize what was happening about that whole thing.”