Oscars 2011: James Franco and Anne Hathaway Talk About Hosting Hollywood's Big Night

PHOTO Robin Roberts sits down with this years Oscar hosts Anne Hathaway and James Franco for an interview, Feb. 25, 2011.PlayRick Rowell/ABC
WATCH Oscar Hosts: Passing the Torch to the Young

James Franco and Anne Hathaway, now in the midst of prepping for Sunday's Academy Awards, said they originally turned down the offer to host Hollywood's biggest night.

"I never thought that I'd be asked to host the Oscars. I was honored--honored, but I just thought, no, I got to say no," James Franco told "GMA" anchor Robin Roberts.

"When I got asked to do it ... I said, "No, thank you, I don't think is really for me," Anne Hathaway said. "And then they called back a couple weeks later and said, 'Well, James Franco's in.' And I said, 'Ooh, that's going to be interesting.'"

In fact, Franco said some people told him he shouldn't host.

"Everybody around me was saying no, don't do it. If you do, you won't get nominated," he said. "I realized those were all reasons to do it. It took a lot of pressure off because I didn't have to worry about the nomination anymore."

Hathaway got some advice from one of last year's hosts, Alec Baldwin.

"He was like, 'Just remember, at the end of the day, it's really not about you,'" she said. "But ultimately, it's about the nominees. It's about the films nominated this year, and you're the host," she said to Franco.

"The show is all about me," Franco joked.

"So we're all here for James," she said.

Hathaway, at 28, and Franco, 32, are the youngest to ever host movies' biggest night. In fact, their combined ages are less than one of last year's co-hosts, Steve Martin. The expectations are not lost on them.

"Young and hip seemed to be the buzzwords that keep getting thrown around," said Hathaway. "I'm trying to figure out which one I am. I think you're hip and I'm young," she said, laughing to Franco.

Franco is nominated for his first Oscar for his performance in "127 Hours," the riveting story of a daredevil mountain climber's desperate fight for survival. Hathaway was previously nominated in 2008 for her performance in "Rachel Getting Married."

Franco is also known for his busy schedule away from the movies. A perpetual student, he's pursuing graduate studies at Yale. He's released a book of short stories and had his own art exhibited. He's even called up the producers of the ABC soap opera "General Hospital" and asked for a guest appearance as a "crazed artist."

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Those behind the awards show hope having young, bright stars like Franco and Hathaway will draw younger viewers this year.

The two have taken unique measures to promote their hosting of an awards show that's has such memorable hosts as Steve Martin, Billy Crystal, Whoopi Goldberg and Alec Baldwin.

Franco has tweeted video clips of the two and mock advice from filmmakers such as Judd Apatow. One clip shows the two looking very much like Olivia Newton John and John Travolta in "Grease." Franco, wearing slicked-back hair and a black t-shirt, picks up a dancing Anne Hathaway who is sporting teased hair and black spandex.

The couple joked about the clip.

"There'll be some stuff, it won't be exactly like that, but ...," Franco said.

"It's a red herring. We're actually doing something from 'Fame,'" Hathaway joked.

Franco and Hathaway to Bring Parents to Oscars

The two actors, who said that they've admired one another for many years, both share a devotion to their families. Both have parents who are performers and the pair grew up watching the Oscars with family.

"Yeah, my family is coming, everybody, both grandmothers, parents, my brothers," Franco said.

"My folks are super-duper excited. I mean, I have the best parents in the world. They're as excited for me hosting the Oscars as they were when I was the lead of the school play in high school," Hathaway said.

Despite their natural chemistry, the two co-hosts never met prior to working on the awards show. They got to ask each other questions they wanted to know about each other.

"This is the year of Hollywood pregnancies," said Franco. "So Anne Hathaway, when do you have dreams of getting married? Anytime soon or?"

"Are you asking, James? I have no plans to get married currently," she answered. "I'm getting to be an age where, yeah, I have to start thinking about motherhood. And-- 'cause I'd like to have a large family. So it's like I've got to have kids soon. So-- I'm imagining hopefully within the next five years I will be a mommy. I'd like that."

Hathaway then turned the tables on Franco.

"I have to think what Diane Sawyer would ask and I'm really bad at this," she said. "But I guess my question for you is you seem very unconcerned with conventions, like an actor is this, and a student is this, and an artist is this, and you seem to be a person who says I can combine all these into one being."

"For me, I've always had a lot of interests and our world is changing so quickly that there -- this is a time when different mediums are blending, technology is accessible now," he said. "And so people you know, we are fulfilling what Coppola said his dream was, that when, he said 'I'm waiting for the young girl in Iowa to make a movie in her backyard,' And this is that time."

"You are that young girl," said Hathaway to her co-host.

"That's right. You didn't know it Francis, but here I am."

The two laughed; signs of the fun that will be on full display Sunday night.