It might be hard to believe, but 2021 marks the tenth anniversary of James Franco and Anne Hathaway’s ill-fated Oscars hosting stint (via YouTube). The Evening Standard ranked it among their top 10 worst hosting gigs of all time, noting Franco looked as though he’d rather be anywhere else, which caused Hathaway to overcompensate for his lack of energy to a grating extent. Despite both being A-listers, the hosts shared zero chemistry onstage. Franco later described Hathaway as too “energetic.” 

He suggested “the Tasmanian Devil would look stoned standing next to Anne Hathaway.” At the 2012 Golden Globes, co-host Tina Fey quipped onstage, of Hathaway’s performance in Les Misérables, “I haven’t seen you so totally alone and abandoned like that since you were on stage with James Franco at the Oscars.” The Oscar-winner later poked fun at her hosting skills in an Instagram post about the 2019 Academy Awards. Now, a decade on, we finally know what went wrong for the mismatched duo.

Their co-hosting gig was doomed from the start

Speaking to The Ringer, writer David Wild described the show as “the world’s most uncomfortable blind date between the cool rocker stoner kid and the adorable theater camp cheerleader.” There were four writers tasked with creating Franco and Hathaway’s witty onstage repartee, one of whom was Wild, who’s worked on the CMAs and the Grammys over the years. Unfortunately, there were issues from the outset, with Wild recalling Hathaway suggested Franco should try something to which the actor snapped back, “Don’t tell me how to be funny.” According to fellow writer Jordan Rubin, Hathaway was totally committed to preparing for their big night, making herself available accordingly. Franco was more difficult to get a hold of, due to his commitments elsewhere (he was studying, acting and teaching at the time). 

The actor reportedly “wanted to play it as a buddy-cop movie with two opposite characters.” He never quite found a groove with his co-host, though. According to Wild, Justin Timberlake was originally considered for the role, but wanted to wait until after The Social Network had come out. However, it could’ve been so much worse, as writer Megan Amram revealed Franco and Hathaway were originally going to do a parody of “You’re the One That I Want” from Grease but, thankfully, it was axed along the way. She opined sagely, “I don’t think we ever landed on a tone or a cohesive feeling of what the show would be.”

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