We can all admit that the 2011 Oscar ceremony didn’t exactly set the world on fire. In fact, it was heavily criticised at the time – Roger Ebert called it “dead in the water” while THR said it was “one of the worst Oscar telecasts in history” –in spite of it being the year that saw films like Inception, The King’s Speech and The Social Network earn the commendations they deserved.

Much of the criticism of the ceremony was aimed at its first-time hosts, Anne Hathaway and James Franco, with the latter being deemed to have a “deer-in-the-headlights manner.” Others said he looked bored or “stoned.”

In a recent interview with Variety, Franco himself opened up about hosting the awards. “At the time I justified it to myself,” he said. “‘This will be an experiment. This will be weird.’ Part of me was so uncomfortable with the attention of being nominated, but also fear of losing, because everybody was talking about Colin Firth.”

Franco had been nominated in the Best Actor category that year for 127 Hours, but the award went to Firth for The King’s Speech. By taking on the role of Oscar host, he thought it would detract from what he knew would inevitably be a loss.

The actor said he didn’t even know he was tanking during the telecast because there was laughter and a good reception in the auditorium. “I mean, I shouldn’t have been doing it,” he continued. “Honestly, I think the biggest criticism of me, it seemed like I was high or low energy. In my head, I was trying to be the straight man. I guess I just went too far or came across as the dead man.”

In fairness, you can empathise with him. Anne Hathaway (who received more praise for her part as host) was definitely going for quirky and energetic so maybe Franco was going for an odd couple chemistry that just didn’t pan out.