Eminem spoke about his Oscar performance revealing that he rehearsed “four or five times” for the prestigious award ceremony.
In 2003, “Lose Yourself”, from his autobiographical film 8 Mile, won an Oscar for Best Original Song. An achievement that no other Hip Hop artist had obtained before.
Although it was the first Hip Hop song to win the award, Eminem wasn’t in attendance. This was due to a few factors which included thinking the song wouldn’t win. Barbra Streisand presented the award to Lose Yourself co-producer Luis Resto in his absence.
Eminem remembers being at home with his daughter Hailey, when he heard he had won. “When I found out I won, ‘That’s crazy!’ That to me shows how authentic and real that award is. When you don’t show up and you still win,” Eminem said. “That makes it very real to me.”
Speaking with Variety, Eminem further explained the reason behind not attending. “Back then, I never even thought that I had a chance to win, and we had just performed Lose Yourself on the Grammys with the Roots a couple of weeks before the Oscars. So, we didn’t think it was a good idea. And also, back at that time, the younger me didn’t really feel like a show like that would understand me.”
Seventeen years later, at the 92nd Academy Awards clips from the 8 Mile movie start showing on the screen. Appearing from a trapdoor, Eminem performed Lose Yourself, with a montage from 8 Mile playing in the background. Dressed in all black and playing with a live band, the Detroit rapper looked comfortable on the Oscar stage.
Revealing to Variety, Eminem spoke about how only a select few knew about it and thought the element of surprise was cool. “We flew in last week, so we probably have four or five rehearsals just to make sure we got everything right. Most of the rehearsals were offsite, just trying to keep it secret.”
Eminem’s performance came as a surprise to some of the star-studded audience, which included Martin Scorsese. Nominated for Best Director, Scorsese appeared to have his eyes shut as the camera panned around to the audience. However, the majority of celebrities in the crowd enjoyed and even rapped along with the lyrics.
According to Oscar’s producer Lynette Howell Taylor, it was all about the “impact” an Eminem surprise performance would have. “We made a show that was about impact and we wanted to do a segment on the impact of music. And we reached out to see if that was something he wanted to be involved in and we were just really lucky he said yes,” Taylor told USA Today.
Eminem took to Instagram after his performance to apologize for the delay to getting to the Oscar stage. Posting a video of the 2003 award presentation, Eminem wrote, “Look if you had another shot, another opportunity… Thanks for having me @TheAcademy. Sorry it took 18 years to get here.”