Hugh Jackman's advice for Oscar hosts: Start big and move fast
"I'd tell them, 'Just remember put everything into the opening,' " says Jackman, who hosted the gala in February 2009. "Everyone remembers the start of the show. You do your opening and all of that and then don't worry too much because, after that, it's just a room full of people -- increasingly upset people -- who haven't won."
Jackman, who will present the Oscar for best score this year with his "Australia" costar Nicole Kidman, said the audience at the Kodak Theatre gets increasingly frosty and sour as the envelopes get opened. Plenty of people head to the bars in the lobby, and the ones who stay in their seats aren't in the mood to laugh.
"Don't try to get them on your side, you're just going to lose them," Jackman said. "Be good at the beginning, and after that just be quick."
The 42-year-old Aussie actor feels a connection to one of this year's hosts; Hathaway was a sensation as his surprise singing accomplice during his Oscars opening-musical number.
"Anne was so great working with me when I did mine," Jackman said. "I knew she would be good, but I didn't know she would nail it like that."
Jackman is now preparing to film a new Wolverine movie, this time with "Black Swan" director Darren Aronofsky. The actor has plenty of emcee experience (a three-time host of the Tonys, he won an Emmy for one of those years) but said that the Oscars gig was a tightrope night he won't soon forget.
"If I blow it because I'm no good, that's fine. I'll live. I just didn't want to blow it because I was nervous. If you blow it because you're nervous, that's hard to live with. That will stay with you."
What would he point to as his defining memory of that night, the year that "Slumdog Millionaire" took home the trophy for best picture?
"The great memory of it I have, the thing I think of most, is standing up there and looking out on all these Hollywood stars and seeing the same look on all their faces. They were all thinking, ''Oh, my God, thank God it's not me up there,' whereas I'm sure when comedians are up there, [the audience is] thinking, 'OK, what have you got?' With me [onstage], it was all, 'I don't believe you're doing this, thank God it's not me, good luck, mate, I wouldn't do it, good on you, mate.'"
-- Geoff Boucher
Photo: Hugh Jackman hosting the Oscar in 2009. Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times