Eminem almost starred in a Grand Theft Auto movie, according to a video games industry veteran close to Rockstar Games.
Kirk Ewing, a friend of GTA creators Sam and Dan Houser, shed light on the failed project during an appearance on U.K. rapper Bugzy Malone’s Grandest Game podcast, which is dedicated to the best-selling franchise.
Ewing revealed a Hollywood agent pitched him on the idea shortly after the release of Grand Theft Auto III in 2001, at which point Eminem was one of the hottest new rappers in the game thanks to his blockbuster 2000 album The Marshall Mathers LP.
He said the Houser brothers were offered $5 million for the rights to a movie starring the Detroit rap icon and directed by Top Gun director Tony Scott. While the duo had been toying with the idea of a movie tie-in with the game, Sam Houser turned down the deal.
“[The agent] said: ‘Kirk, we’ve got Eminem to star, and it’s a Tony Scott film. $5 million on the nose. Are you interested?’” Ewing recalled. “And I phoned up Sam and I said: ‘Listen to this. They want Eminem in the Grand Theft Auto movie and Tony Scott to direct.’”
He continued: “And he said: ‘Not interested’ … They realized that the media franchise that they had was bigger than any movie that was going on at the time.”
Eminem isn’t the only rap star to have been pitched on crossing over into the Grand Theft Auto universe. Last year, Dr. Dre starred in and contributed new music to The Contract, an update for Grand Theft Auto: Online.
Also starring Anderson .Paak, DJ Pooh and Jimmy Iovine, the immersive mission tasked players with retrieving Dre’s stolen phone, which contained unreleased music, with help from GTA V protagonist Franklin Clinton.
The high-profile collaboration unlocked a slew of exclusive songs from Dre’s vaults, including collaborations with Snoop Dogg, Rick Ross, Busta Rhymes, Anderson .Paak, Ty Dolla $ign and the late Nipsey Hussle. Eminem also appeared on the song “Gospel.”
Hip Hop has been a mainstay on Grand Theft Auto airwaves long before Dr. Dre entered the picture thanks to rap-centric in-game radio stations like Radio Los Santos (GTA: San Andreas), The Beat 102.7 (GTA IV) and West Coast Classics (GTA V).
Tyler, The Creator, Pusha T, Freddie Gibbs and others have also contributed original music to GTA V, while The Game, Ice-T and Danny Brown are among the famous names who’ve voiced characters in the popular long-running series.
Although the Grand Theft Auto movie didn’t pan out, Eminem would go on to make his big screen debut in 8 Mile, the semi-biographical battle rap film that arrived in 2002. The Shady Records boss recently celebrated its 20th anniversary by releasing an expanded edition of the accompanying soundtrack on streaming services.