Dominic West, The Wire
Credit: Nicole Rivelli

Eminem’s Relapse is a highly personal album by any measure, but the first voice that 608,000 fans heard when they cued up that long-awaited set wasn’t actually Marshall Mathers’. Instead it belonged to British actor Dominic West, who plays an unscrupulous doctor in the skit that opens Relapse. West, who’s best known as The Wire‘s Jimmy McNulty, tells the Music Mix that Eminem’s love for the defunct HBO drama won him the role. “He’s an obsessive fan of The Wire, which is quite encouraging,” West says with a self-deprecating laugh. “He’s seen the whole lot four times, he told me the other day!” West recorded his part for the skit over the phone from London in January while Em was in a Miami studio. “He’s a really good actor, so it was a pleasure doing it with him,” West recalls.

This month, West and Eminem met in person for the first time while Em was in the U.K. taping television appearances. “We had a good chat,” says West. “Clarke Peters, the guy who plays Lester Freamon in The Wire, came out as well, so we talked Wire all night…The directors and writers of The Wire would always put in little bits and pieces that only the most vigilant viewers would notice. Marshall got them all.”

So that’s how Eminem spent all that downtime since his last album (well, at least some of it): watching and re-watching high-quality cable crime shows on DVD! Are you surprised to learn how much Em digs The Wire? And have any of you had time to watch all five seasons four times through yourself, or is that strictly famous-rapper territory?

More from EW’s Music Mix
Eminem trounces the competition in a crowded week
Moby talks about his new CD and why he’d like to make a metal album with Susan Boyle
Nick Cannon talks to EW about Eminem blog rant: “I stick by everything.”

addCredit(“Nicole Rivelli”)