The 2011 edition of the Academy Awards remains a low point for the venerable award show, thanks to the awkward hosting combination of James Franco and Anne Hathaway.
While it certainly looked cringe-inducing to viewers, according to writers who worked on the show, it was even worse behind the scenes.
“It was like the world’s most uncomfortable blind date between the cool rocker stoner kid and the adorable theatre camp cheerleader,” Oscars writer David Wild recalled in an interview with The Ringer.
“She showed up ready to play and committed 110 per cent and he was a great guy but often looked like he had just woken up from a nap,” added Wild’s fellow writer Jordan Rubin. “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.”
Remembered as an epic misfire, Wild also recalled some tension between the two. “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.’”
Added Rubin: “I think he wanted to play it as buddy-cop movie with two opposite characters.”
Rubin also recalled a moment when he thought things were going to work, when Franco was looking over at Hathaway with a big smile on his face — or so Rubin thought.
“I thought, ‘Oh boy, they’ve finally broken through and he’s looking at her!’” he said, but then realized that “Anne had gone to her dressing room for a minute… James was smiling at her stand-in.”