8 Mile Actor Remembers His Belated Co-Stars and Almost Passing on the Film



  • Phifer reflects on his time making
    8 Mile
    , remembering the bond formed with the cast and director Curtis Hanson.
  • Initially hesitant to take the role due to other commitments and the timing of 9/11, Phifer eventually flew to Detroit to meet with Eminem and joined the film.
  • Phifer expresses gratitude for the experience, becoming close friends with Eminem and enjoying the success of the movie, including being mentioned in an Oscar-winning song.

In an exclusive interview with MovieWeb, Mekhi Phifer took some time to remember making the classic rap battle drama 8 Mile alongside Marshall Mathers, aka Eminem, saying he still keeps in touch with people from the movie. While discussing his new film with Frank Grillo, Lights Out, Phifer also reflected on those from the cast who have sadly since passed away, such as Brittany Murphy, who died in 2009.

“Unfortunately, we’ve had some people pass from the film for various reasons, and they are always in my heart, wholeheartedly, you know. But I stay in touch as far as Eminem and them. Omar Miller, I was just on the phone with him two days ago. Everybody, Anthony Mackie, everybody else. And rest in peace Curtis Hanson, our director. We formed a bond making that movie. We had such a good time, and I think it’s apparent, it shows onscreen. We really had to trust one another.

There was a lot of raw energy, we were all young, in our 20s I believe, and having a really great time doing it. And it’s very rare that you get to be a part of filmmaking in that way. A lot of times, especially now, things can kind of be rushed. It’s up to the artist to kind of slow things down and say, ‘Look, let’s read, let’s talk, let’s delve into these characters. It was a great experience doing 8 Mile, and I definitely. as much as I can, try to keep up with everyone there.”

Released way back in 2002, 8 Mile was written by Scott Silver and directed by Curtis Hanson, and follows Eminem as white rapper Jimmy Smith Jr. aka B-Rabbit and his attempt to launch a career in hip hop. 8 Mile is partly based on the real-life rapper’s life, and was both a critical and commercial success, winning the Oscar for Best Original Song win for “Lose Yourself.”

The story is now set to be adapted for the small screen, with Eminem teaming up with 50 Cent to tell a ‘modern version’ of the movie.

Mekhi Phifer Almost Walked Away Starring in 8 Mile

8 Mile

Release Date
November 8, 2002

Every moment is another chance.

We asked Phifer if he had initially passed on 8 Mile, which he revealed that he indeed almost pass, and took the time to explain why.

“I did. Well, when it came down the pipeline for me, I was all ready to start with the show ER, which I loved playing Dr. Greg Pratt, and I was excited about doing that. And when I got the offer in 8 Mile, I didn’t really take it seriously except for Curtis Hanson, who had already done L.A. Confidential and Wonder Boys and a bunch of other great things, and I respected him as a director and a storyteller. But then it was right around 9/11, so flying somewhere was like crazy talk. Because I was in Los Angeles, and they wanted me to fly to Detroit to meet with Eminem and meet those guys. And I was like, ‘This just doesn’t make sense to me, just let me be this doctor,’ because I’d never played a doctor before and I was really excited about that. So it took some convincing, but I read the script, the script was awesome. I saw what I could add to it, and I flew to Detroit and met with Eminem, and the rest was history.”

8 Mile Cast: Where They Are Today

These are some of the brilliant 8 Mile actors’ current and upcoming projects.

Thankfully, everything worked out in the end, with Phifer in some disbelief that he almost walked away from starring in 8 Mile, and heaping praise on Eminem.

“We became really, really good friends, and really connected artistically as well as personally. So ER waited, they said, ‘Okay, go do the movie. We’ll wait a few months, and after the movie’s over, you come do the show,’ and that’s what I did […] I can’t believe I almost turned it down. I mean, it was a great experience. Eminem put my name in the song. I didn’t ask him to do that, he just said one day, ‘I put your name in the song,’ and it happened to win an Oscar. I’m mentioned in an Oscar-winning song!”

Lights Out

is scheduled to be released by Quiver Distribution on February 16, 2024.

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