Veterans David Wild and Bruce Vilanch and young writers Jordan Rubin and Megan Amram, who were tasked with creating the script for the 83rd Academy Awards, admit their jobs were made really difficult by the fact the two presenters had zero chemistry.
"It was like the world's most uncomfortable blind date between the cool rocker stoner kid and the adorable theatre camp cheerleader," Wild tells The Ringer.
"A host's primary job is to make the audience feel comfortable and the audience at home feel welcome at the party," Vilanch adds. "Once the audience felt the hosts' discomfort, they got quiet."
Amram, who was 22 at the time, insists the idea to make the show seem younger and hipper fell flat because producers picked the wrong hosts.
"A lot of stuff that made it into the show was written a few days beforehand," she explains. "We wrote all these jokes, but I don't think we ever landed on a tone or a cohesive feeling of what the show would be."
And Rubin admits that while Hathaway was a delight to work with, no one could ever get hold of Franco.
"Anne made herself readily available," he adds. "I went to her house and worked on the script and she was on a bunch of conference calls and responding to emails and was a great collaborator. He always seemed to be on a flight and it was very hard for me to get a hold of him. That was a red flag."
"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. 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."
But Rubin is keen to dismiss rumors suggesting Franco was on drugs, adding, "He was not stoned. I don't even think he drinks."
Wild reveals it became clear the actors were mismatched during rehearsals, when Hathaway tried to offer Franco some advice. "She was like, 'Maybe you should try that', and he was like, 'Don't tell me how to be funny,' " he recalls.