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Billy Crystal is primed and ready to host the 84th Academy Awards (interview)

It's a primetime moment for Billy Crystal, who is preparing to step up to the host's podium of the Academy Awards for a ninth time this Sunday. Find out what the iconic comedian has in store for audiences as they tune into Hollywood's biggest night.

Prime time: The legendary Billy Crystal returns for his ninth hosting gig of the Academy Awards this Sunday, February 26.
Prime time: The legendary Billy Crystal returns for his ninth hosting gig of the Academy Awards this Sunday, February 26.
Bob D'Amico/ABC

Once Billy Crystal welcomes the world to the 84th Academy Awards, it will mark his ninth time as host. For those keeping score, he is second only to the legendary Bob Hope (with an unprecedented 18 appearances). Hoping for a total reboot after last year's less-than-dynamic pairing of Anne Hathway and James Franco, those hoping for the sure-fire Crystal Method to bring luster back the Oscar shine will be legion.

With 48 hours to go until showtime, The Hollywood Reporter noted Crystal has actually stepped up his presence on Twitter to chat up the show:

February 24 11:04am @Billy Crystal: Added excitement for #Oscars. One envelope will contain a live scorpion!

February 23 12:04pm @BillyCrystal: Changing my opening, hand puppets too itchy.

February 23 12:03pm @BillyCrystal: #Oscars are a few days away. Tonight I might tweet winner of best supporting actor. Really, who can stop me?

February 22, 2012 @Billy Crystal: Great news! Hosting Oscars counts five hours toward my community service!

February 21, 2012 @BillyCrystal: First rehearsal: They said keep it "fresh and new." This from an industry that just brought us Fast & Furious 5 and Harry Potter 7, part 2.

In this exclusive Personalities Interview, find out what else Crystal has to say about this year's Oscars, sharing a legacy with two of his own heroes and why the industry needs to celebrate the universal power of film a little more.

QUESTION: Do you remember when you first fell in love with movies?

BILLY CRYSTAL: The first time I went into a movie theater, I just thought, "This is it for me." You never forget your first movie. My first movie was Shane and to be a part of the film community and have made a lot of movies now and hosted the show now my ninth time is kind of thrilling that it ended up this way.

QUESTION: What remains so intriguing about the Oscars with people all over the world?

CRYSTAL: It was always the only awards show when I was growing up and there was a majesty to it. No matter what’s happened over the years, 84 years later, it’s the granddaddy of the shows. I’m thrilled to be able to be out there again.

QUESTION: You have had the privilege of having the best seat in the house on the big night. What was it like hosting your first Oscars?

CRYSTAL: When I first presented, it was insane how exciting it was when you walk out in front of movie stars. It was awesome. It was absolutely awesome and I remember walking out and there’s Gene Hackman and there’s Francis Ford Coppola and there’s Robert Duvall and there’s Meryl Streep. That was one of the great nights of my life ever.

QUESTION: It is one thing to step in front of cameras as an actor for a scene. However, did you ever think taking on such a gig would be a daunting experience?

CRYSTAL: I’m doing what I grew up watching Bob Hope doing. I’m doing what Johnny Carson did. During that first show, I had a long break. I think I’m off-screen about two or three hours. I’m in my dressing room and there’s a knock on a door and it’s Warren Beatty and Jack Nicholson, who came back to say hello, introduce themselves and basically said thanks for doing this. It was unbelievable to me that they would do that and they were so happy with how it was going and that was a tremendous thrill.

QUESTION: What are your thoughts as you embark on your ninth show? How does it feel to be in the company of Bob Hope as the two most frequent hosts of the Oscars?

CRYSTAL: Anytime I see my name mentioned in the same breath with Mr. Hope or Johnny, I have to think, "Is that me? Is that really me?" It’s been such an interesting career that I’ve done a lot of different things in, but this has a such a special place for me. Fans kept saying, "Where are you?" That always meant a great deal to me. Last year, when I came back to honor Bob Hope after not being there for a number of years, that reception touched me so deeply that I probably should have quit last year. [LAUGHS] It really made me think about wanting to be here again.

QUESTION: Dare I ask, what can audiences expect from this Sunday's show?

CRYSTAL: [SMILES] First of all, a magician never tells his tricks. We have some really good ideas. People are expecting certain things. The movie business has changed so much since I first did it. The movies this year are all excellent movies, but to find that way to come back...there’s so much expected of this. We just tell people to please lower your expectations and we’ll have a good time. [LAUGHS]

QUESTION: But will this Sunday's broadcast feature a certain theme?


CRYSTAL: I think what’s going to be a theme of the evening is your first question, "How did you fall in love with movies?" It’s a common experience that we all have. How many hundreds of people who don’t know each other in the same room have had a common experience watching a movie? I think we have to celebrate that more.

Watch Billy Crystal host the 84th Academy Awards on Sunday, February 26, broadcasting live on ABC from the newly named Hollywood and Highland Center in Hollywood.

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