We will never be able to unsee the horror that was Anne Hathaway and James Franco co-hosting the 2011 Academy Awards. In an effort to lure in a younger television audience, Franco (127 Hours) and Hathaway (Les Miserables) were paired and put through an uncomfortable ringer, as the duo displayed the same chemistry as peanut butter and bleach... even though, on their own, each can be charming and effusive. Reflecting on the travesty, Franco now explains why he wishes he had avoided that mistake, saying:
At the time I justified it to myself. 'This will be an experiment. This will be weird.' Part of me was so uncomfortable with the attention of being nominated, but also fear of losing, because everybody was talking about Colin Firth. I mean, I shouldn't have been doing it. Honestly, I think the biggest criticism of me, it seemed like I was high or low energy. In my head, I was trying to be the straight man. I guess I just went too far or came across as the dead man.
It's true that a few reviews criticizing the bad chemistry between Anne Hathaway and James Franco as Oscar hosts stated that she was far too perky, and he seemed stoned. Franco had to be nervous. As far as I can remember, he had to be the first person who was hosting the live ceremony while also being nominated in a top category. Franco was nominated for his performance as a hiker with his arm trapped by a rock in Danny Boyle's 127 Hours.
But even if James Franco was only able to focus on being a co-host, and NOT on potentially winning his first Oscar, there's no denying that his interactions with Anne Hathaway were just clunky and off for the entire evening. Even though, in the Variety profile that touches on this interaction, Franco says that they had no idea that they were bombing, because they were getting laughs in the room.
Here is a particularly painful bit from the Oscars, as hosted by James Franco and Anne Hathaway:
All is well that ends well, of course. Anne Hathaway went on to win her first Oscar in 2013 for playing Fantine in Tom Hooper's Les Miserables. And James Franco is being interviewed because he's a legit Best Actor contender for playing Tommy Wiseau in The Disaster Artist, a movie about the making of The Room. Then again, The Disaster Artist could also be a title of a movie about the behind the scenes of the 2011 Oscar ceremony. Insert rimshot sound here.