Oscars writers revisit Anne Hathaway and James Franco's awkward 2011 hosting gig

·3 min read
James Franco and Anne Hathaway speak onstage during the 83rd Annual Academy Awards held at the Kodak Theatre on February 27, 2011 in Hollywood, California.  (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
James Franco and Anne Hathaway speak onstage during the 83rd Annual Academy Awards (Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

The writers behind the 2011 Oscars ceremony have opened up on what went on behind-the-scenes of Anne Hathaway and James Franco's disastrous turn as hosts.

—The ceremony made headlines for all the wrong reasons thanks to the awkward pairing of the actors picked by producers hoping to appeal to a younger demographic — who came to the stage with widely mismatched energies, as the sedate Franco played opposite a peppy Hathaway. 

Ten years on, writers including David Wild, Jordan Rubin and Megan Amram have spoken about the infamous gig in a new interview with The Ringer

Read more: Quiz! How well can you remember embarrassing Oscars moments?

"It was like the world's most uncomfortable blind date between the cool rocker stoner kid and the adorable theatre camp cheerleader," Wild remarked. 

James Franco and Anne Hathaway speak onstage during the 83rd Annual Academy Awards held at the Kodak Theatre on February 27, 2011 in Hollywood, California.  (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
James Franco and Anne Hathaway speak onstage during the 83rd Annual Academy Awards held at the Kodak Theatre on February 27, 2011 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

He also revealed the unofficial first choice for presenting job was Justin Timberlake, who felt it was "a year too early" for him after Wild was asked to float the idea past him. 

It was producers Bruce Cohen and Don Mischer who put the ill-fated pair of Franco and Hathaway together, two stars who had never worked with each other. 

Wild shared there came a moment during rehearsals when he believed the pair had finally broken the ice after he glimpsed the 127 Hours star grinning at someone he thought was Hathaway.

"I thought, 'Oh boy, they've finally broken through and he's looking at her!'" he said. "Anne had gone to her dressing room for a minute... James was smiling at her stand-in."

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Problems also arose out of Franco's lack of availability in the run-up to the event as he focused on his studies, with Rubin noting he "always seemed to be on a flight". 

Read more: James Franco settles sexual misconduct suit

Meanwhile Amram, who was just 22-years-old when landing the writing gig, said she believes she was brought in as a "youth consultant". However, she didn't understand the combination of hosts that were meant to entice younger people. 

“I thought that it sounded at the time like someone had run pop culture through an algorithm and spit out this thing on paper that sounded like it would appeal to the youth," she shared. "But in practice, it was very random.”

Anne Hathaway and James Franco, in drag, appear on stage during the 83rd annual Academy Awards at the Kodak Theater in Hollywood on February 27, 2011. (AFP PHOTO/Gabriel BOUYS via Getty Images)
Anne Hathaway and James Franco, in drag, appear on stage during the 83rd annual Academy Awards (AFP PHOTO/Gabriel BOUYS via Getty Images)

The writers also spoke of jokes and skits that were axed from the production, including Will Arnett replicating a moment from the 1974 Oscars when a man streaked on stage, and Franco and Hathaway singing 'You're the One That I Want' from Grease with the lyrics changed to reference 127 Hours

Amram went on to note that despite the backlash, the ceremony is certainly one that has stayed with viewers as it became a "cultural moment", ensuring its place in history. 

This year's Oscars on Sunday 25 April will be the third consecutive year the ceremony has gone without a host. 

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