"It was like the world's most uncomfortable blind date," one Oscar writer told The Ringer of James Franco and Anne Hathaway's 2011 hosting gig

By Eric Todisco
April 15, 2021 11:39 AM
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James Franco and Anne Hathaway speak onstage during the 83rd Annual Academy Awards
James Franco and Anne Hathaway
| Credit: Kevin Winter/Getty

James Franco and Anne Hathaway's hosting job at the 83rd Academy Awards has not been forgotten.

In a recent story published by The Ringer, several writers who worked on the 2011 telecast reflected on Franco and Hathaway's hosting gig which was widely criticized by fans and critics alike.

"It was like the world's most uncomfortable blind date between the cool rocker stoner kid and the adorable theater camp cheerleader," said David Wild of the pair's opening monologue.

According to Entertainment Weekly, Franco, 42, and Hathaway, 38, were selected to emcee the show as the producers' way of appealing to younger viewers. Justin Timberlake was initially chosen for the job but turned it down, per the outlet.

Jordan Rubin, another writer for the show, said that Hathaway had a very different method in prepping for the ceremony than Franco did. "Anne made herself readily available. 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," said Rubin of the Devil Wears Prada actress.

James Franco and Anne Hathaway during the 83rd Annual Academy Awards
James Franco and Anne Hathaway
| Credit: GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP via Getty
James Franco and Anne Hathaway during the 83rd Annual Academy Awards
James Franco and Anne Hathaway
| Credit: Bob D'Amico/Walt Disney Television via Getty

Franco, meanwhile, seemed distracted with his other commitments, Rubin said. (At the time, Franco was balancing his acting career while taking doctoral classes, earning a master's degree and teaching a course on film editing.)

"He always seemed to be on a flight and it was very hard for me to get a hold of him," Rubin told The Ringer of The Deuce star.

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Once Hathaway and Franco began filming together, the differences in their personalities were abundantly clear. "She showed up ready to play and committed 110 percent," Rubin said of Hathaway, adding of Franco, "And he was a great guy but 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."

Wild also remembered friction occurring between the two stars during rehearsals when Hathaway offered Franco some advice.

"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,'" Wild recalled. Meanwhile, Rubin said that he believes Franco purposely tried to differentiate himself from Hathaway's hosting style. "I think he wanted to play it as buddy-cop movie with two opposite characters," he said.

James Franco and Anne Hathaway enter the stage during the 83rd Annual Academy Awards
James Franco and Anne Hathaway
| Credit: Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times via Getty

Both Franco and Hathaway have since reflected on the ceremony. In 2016, Franco told New York Magazine, "We got a lot of s--- for it. I probably got more than she did, but she got a lot."

Hathaway, meanwhile, told PEOPLE in January 2019 that she felt her take on the night was off, hours before she hit the stage.

"He didn't give me anything," Hathaway said about Franco at the time. "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."

The Ocean's 8 actress said it was Franco who really wanted her to take the gig, even though she had some reservations about it. "Hey, can I dish some tea? I turned that gig down and James is the one that convinced me to do it," Hathaway said.