Think James Franco was a little low-key and unenthusiastic in his role as Oscar co-host on Sunday night?
Well, you should have seen him at rehearsals.
That's the word from a member of the Oscar crew, who told TheWrap on Monday that Franco had been even more lethargic during preparations for the show, leaving staffers to hope "that he was 'saving it' for the show."
He wasn't. Franco's laid-back attitude during the telecast contrasted markedly with co-host Anne Hathway's wide-eyed enthusiasm, and drew him the lion's share of the scorn afterwards.
"Franco often seemed distracted," wrote Mary McNamara in the Los Angeles Times. "Franco seemed distant, uninterested and content to keep his Cheshire-cat-meets-smug smile on display throughout," sniped Tim Goodman in the Hollywood Reporter. "Mr. Franco looked a little distracted and even blasé," agreed Alessandra Stanley in the New York Times.
The Times also called the co-hosting choice "a strategic attempt at demographic synergy, but it was like pairing James Dean with Debbie Reynolds."
This last comment actually echoed another remark from the show staffer, who suggested that Franco knew he was unsuited to be an Academy Awards host, and so decided to be "too cool for school … and hope that he could come off as the James Dean version of Sonny to Anne’s perky, Mary Tyler Moore version of Cher."
But Franco himself seemed more than laid back about the hosting gig. In a recent interview with Vanity Fair, he said: "If it's the worst Oscars show ever, who cares?! It's like, it's fine. It's one night. It doesn't matter. If I host the worst show in the history of the Oscars, like, what do I care?"
As for the widespread speculation that Franco's genial daze meant he must have been, shall we say, chemically altered, show writer Bruce Vilanch replied in an email, "if he was, he didn't share."
(Photo by Michael Yada/AMPAS)