03/31/2011 at 04:10 PM EDT
Who bombed the worst at the Oscars?
Former hosts James Franco
and David Letterman debate that very issue on Friday's Late Show
"It was horrible," says Letterman, 63, of his 1995 appearance. "I was so bad that they talked for a while about shutting down the motion picture industry. … I was God awful."
But this year's host Franco, 32, argues that at least no one accused Letterman of being on drugs.
"They didn't say you were stoned," Franco says. "People said I was under the influence."
Trying to make sense of everyone's speculation, Franco, who denies smoking pot before hitting the stage, compares his mellow demeanor to that of his "energetic" co-host.
"I love her, but ... I think the Tasmanian Devil would look stoned standing next to Anne Hathaway
," he says. "I haven't watched it back. Maybe I had low energy. I honestly played those lines as well as I could."
When Letterman asks the Oscar-nominated actor why he's bothered by the criticism, Franco calls his feelings "complicated."
"I never dreamed of being, like, the best Oscar host ever," he says. "It was never on my list of things to do. It doesn’t mean I didn't care and it doesn't mean I didn't try, right?"
Letterman tries to smooth things over for Franco.
"There will be, I think for you, a modicum of embarrassment, which you shouldn't feel," he says. "That will pass. You'll go into a period of numbness, and then you'll become, rightly so, defiant."