Mekhi Phifer, an actor who played Future in “8 Mile”, shared stories from the iconic movie set, explained how he bonded with Eminem and described how he listened to the “Lose Yourself” first draft at 3 AM.
The Vulture magazine published an extensive interview where Mekhi Phifer answers all their questions about “8 Mile”.
They started from the fact that he almost refused to take part in the project because he didn’t believe that a hip hop movie might be done well.
I was a huge fan of his music. See, the thing is that I didn’t know how serious he was as far as being an actor. Back then, they were doing a lot of those rappers-in-movies movies — and they weren’t good. So when it initially came up, it was like, “Come on, you can’t be serious; I’m going to play a doctor!” But I loved the music. I always thought Eminem was a genius with his artistry and his wordplay. I had all his music, but I didn’t think it was going to translate into doing a good job in the film. And I was very wrong.
At what point did you realize that he was fully dedicating himself to this new craft?
From talking to him, I could tell that he was serious about it. And he was nervous. He was a fan of my work, and, obviously, this is what I do, and so he really sought advice. Just him asking questions and conversing, it felt like, “Yo, this guy really wants to do a good job.”
Mekhi and Eminem played best friends. As Proof’s story and personality inspired his part, Mekhi consulted with Proof about the intricacies of hosting rap battles and even wrote a rap in his style. But to find rapport with Marshall, they had to spend a lot of time together. It was not a burden, though.
We spent five months together, Thanksgiving and New Year’s, and he was great. So Em had three trailers: his trailer, a trailer that was a studio, and then he had a workout trailer. Between takes, Em would go to the studio, and sometimes we’d go in there and fool around with him. But he’s very, very focused about his music and he had a lot to do with the soundtrack. I remember one day, we were all on the set shooting, it was two or three in the morning, and Em walks up, like, “Mekhi, I want you to come to the studio. I wrote this song and I put your name in it.” And I said, “Oh, word? Okay, let’s go.” So we all piled into the studio and he played it. It was raw, wasn’t mixed or anything, he had just written it and recorded it. And when he said my name, everybody busted up, like, “Yo, this is crazy!” But I didn’t know it was going to have that much impact and be the workout anthem of the world. For him to put me in that song, it’s a testament to how close we were. We hung out a lot; we played basketball at his house, we swam at his house. So it really made me feel good for him to think of me in that way.
Outside of a few cameos, are you surprised that Eminem hasn’t taken on a significant acting role since 8 Mile?
I’m not surprised. If you know Em, just like B-Rabbit, he moves by the beat of his own drum. Em has an air of being introverted, so he’s not going to put himself out there like that. I think he had a great experience with 8 Mile, but collaborating with Curtis was tough for him, just creative differences when it came to the music and things like that. When you are a rapper, a writer, and a producer, you’re used to being in charge of your destiny, whereas film and television is too much of a collaborative effort. You have to deal with the writers, the directors, the producers, the other actors, locations, timelines. I’ve noticed that a lot of musicians who are really in control of their career will collaborate — but on their terms.
Read the interview in full on the the Vulture web page.