“8 Mile” Director Curtis Hanson Has Passed Away. Eminem Reflects In Statement.

The director of Eminem’s semi-autobiographical film 8 Mile has died. Curtis Hanson, who orchestrated the acting on the 2002 film, was 71 years old. He died of natural causes in his Los Angeles, California residence yesterday (September 20) according to the Los Angeles Times. Beyond the Battle Rap film, Hanson also directed L.A. Confidential, The River Wild, and Losin’ It, among others. He was an Oscar-winning writer, producer, and director in Hollywood since the early 1970s. Hanson also joined Jimmy Iovine and Brian Grazer as a producer on the Imagine Entertainment movie.

Nearly 15 years removed from 8 Mile, Eminem released a statement on Hanson’s passing via Billboard. “Curtis Hanson believed in me and our crazy idea to make a Rap Battle movie set in Detroit. He basically made me into an actor for 8 Mile. I’m lucky I got to know him.”


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Speaking with Rolling Stone magazine in 2002, Hanson was aware of the challenges working with Marshall Mathers as a new leading man in a film. “I knew going into it that [Eminem] had experience performing and also adopting a character, ‘Slim Shady.’ What I was looking for was actually the opposite of that. When you adopt a characterization, that’s artificial. You hide behind that.” He wanted to present Eminem as the man behind the quips, punchlines, and antics—the artist before fame. “What I needed in this story was the appearance of a complete lack of artifice. I needed the appearance of one more or less exposing himself emotionally.” Up to that point, Em’ had only appeared briefly in DJ Pooh’s The Wash.

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Through the film, Eminem would win an Academy Award for the soundtrack inclusion “Lose Yourself.” Outside of cameos as himself, he has not acted since.