Billy and Oscar, together again: Crystal hosts Academy Awards
The actor-filmmaker-comedian has hosted the
Crystal agreed to return after originally scheduled host
Q: Have you kept up with this year's nominated movies?
A: I've seen pretty much everything. There were certain performances I hadn't seen that I went back and looked at to see if a joke might be made, because whoever that person is will now be in the audience. We'd been developing things, but when the nominations came out, that's when we really started grinding for four or five weeks.
Q: You've acknowledged that a lot of expectation comes with your return to host the Oscars. Are you managing that well?
A: Well, I don't know how well I manage anything! Anxiety can be a very healthy thing, too. In the past, I've always tried to top myself in what we've done on the show, and we're going to try to do that again. People seem happy that I'm coming back, and I'm happy that I'm coming back, so I want to give them the best show I can. With that comes pressure to make it as good as you can.
Q: When people anticipate you'll insert yourself into clips from the past year's movies and do your musical satire "It's a Wonderful Night for Oscar," how do you work with or against that to stay surprising?
A: What I like to do and what the audience wants me to do can be two different things. In my mind, I'm not going to do certain things they want ... then you start thinking about it and go, "Well, maybe I should." I'm just looking to have a good time and hopefully, the audience will, too.
Q: After things fell apart with the original hosting plans for this year, it seemed you got on board pretty quickly.
A: Yeah, it took one day. I was in Atlanta finishing up a movie that's coming out in November -- "Parental Guidance," with
We were 2 1/2 weeks from finishing that when (the Oscar plans) started to unravel, and I had a feeling they were going to come to me. Then Brian called and said, "I want you," and I said, "Let me think about it." And when I hung up, I actually was angry. I was like, "I'm finishing up a passion project that's been going great. I don't want to be thinking about this now."
Q: What changed your mind?
A: I woke up at 3 in the morning in the hotel, and I had an idea that I thought was funny, and I wrote it down. And it made me laugh, and I couldn't sleep. Then I had another idea and another, and I said to myself, "OK, try to fall asleep again. If you wake up with a smile, then you'll do it."
When I woke up, I called my wife, Janice. In 41 years of marriage, we've made every decision together, right from the beginning. I said, "What do you think?" She said, "Are you smiling?" I said, "Yeah." She said, "Then do it." And I called Brian, and I said, "OK."
Q: Your relatively brief appearance at last year's Academy Awards got a huge response. How far did that go toward your decision about this year?
A: That was a big part of it. That moment took my breath away, and I'm somebody who's not usually at a loss for words. It was very warm and loving, and it got me a little itchy. This will be my ninth time, second only to
Q: Do you reflect much about often being mentioned with Bob Hope and
A: In those quiet moments, you say to yourself, "Wow. Look at these guys I'm with." I grew up watching them, especially Bob; when I first became aware of the Academy Awards, it was his show, and I always thought he was so great. Johnny was great, too, and when you see your name with theirs, it's incredibly satisfying and humbling.
The best moment I've ever had with the Oscars actually happened the morning after one of the shows, when Johnny called me. He couldn't have been more kind and congratulatory. He just said so many beautiful things to me, I hung up and said to myself, "I don't ever have to do this again."
Q: Since you are doing it again, what are your hopes for the unexpected to happen, as with the night your "City Slickers" co-star
A: You hope something like that happens ... and also that you're out there for it. Last year, they had me backstage in a freezing little storage room so no one knew I'd be coming out, and I was watching the show on a monitor. I saw