How controversial rapper Eminem brought his sound and fury (and an uncharacteristic dash of humility) to ''8 Mile'' -- an excerpt from Entertainment Weekly's Nov. 8, 2002, cover story
Credit: Eminem Photograph by Dan Winters

”Bitches and gentlemen! It’s showtime! Hurry, hurry, step righ up! Introducing the star of our show. His name is MAR-SHALL!” — ”Business” from ”The Eminem Show”

Not so fast. Marshall Mathers III, possibly the most hated young white man in America, is not here. Not yet. But the Eminem show — that bloody carnival of relentless press coverage, hilarity and hurt, idiocy and artistry — is about the open a tent in your multiplex. And there’s not a damn thing you can do about it.

His movie, ”8 Mile” — a term for the literal and symbolic dividing line between white and black in his native Detroit — is poised to bring the multiplatinum rapper even greater stardom. No ”Krush Groove II,” it’s got a real pedigree: directed by critics’ darling Curtis Hanson and produced by Hollywood mainstay Brian Grazer. It’s also a real music enterprise: the brainchild of Eminem’s manager Paul Rosenberg and Interscope Records chief Jimmy Iovine, with a major soundtrack featuring the likes of Nas, Jay-Z, and Marshall Mathers himself. And no matter what anyone says, it was a real headache, marked by corporate fretting, infighting, and creeping discontent.

But here’s the remarkable part: Not one bit was caused by the most controversial man in show business.

EW Why make a movie?
EMINEM Um, well. Shit. In 2000 people were offering me roles and I thought it was something I might want to dabble in. But I was doin’ the music so much, I was like, I’ll do it later. The issue got pressed when Brian Grazer got involved. So I had a few meetings with [screenwriter] Scott Silver and basically me and Proof, who is one of my best friends, got together with him and we were just kickin’ it, like, ”Remember that time?” We told him about how we used to do it, how we used to battle [other rappers], the clubs we used to go to, showed him tapes of me at the Rap Olympics and Scribble Jam. When the script got sent to me, well, I don’t like to read. That’s like the worst thing in the world for me to do. You know, sit down and read somethin’? I hate reading. But I read the first coupla pages and couldn’t stop.

8 Mile
  • Movie
  • 111 minutes