It’s rare that films starring major hip-hop stars in the lead role perform well at the Hollywood box office. One film that bucked this trend, however, was the 2002 movie 8 Mile, a film loosely based on the early life of Eminem who stars in the film as an aspiring rapper named B-Rabbit.
Celebrated for Eminem’s surprisingly compelling lead performance, 8 Mile would go on to receive an Oscar for Best Original Song and inspire a whole generation of ambitious young musicians each wanting to replicate the artist’s life. Starring the likes of Brittany Murphy, Kim Basinger, Michael Shannon, alongside Eminem, the film also features Anthony Mackie as the main antagonist, a renowned rapper called Papa Doc.
The drama all culminates in a climatic rap battle between Eminem’s B-Rabbit and Papa Doc, with dozens of Detroit rappers hired to work as extras in the scene, as well as many others like it. Holding a rap competition amongst them to keep up morale, the extras held an unofficial contest, with the winner chosen to appear alongside Eminem in a small montage sequence.
Marv Won, the record producer and rapper, was the lucky winner of this competition, appearing beside Eminem in a sequence that was completely silent. With the star actor and rapper ordered to rest his voice and not say a word, Won was told to pretend to rap but saw the helpless Eminem as too much of an easy target not to exploit.
Rapping a few pre-planned verses, Eminem was taken aback but wasn’t willing to sit back and watch either. Speaking to Entertainment Weekly Eminem stated, “I was told that the mics were going to be off when we were doing the montage scenes of Rabbit coming up through the ranks and we were supposed to pantomime. For some reason, some of the others’ mics were on and they started going at me in front of the crowd”.
Further clarifying the situation, Marv Won told MTV, “After I spit my verse, the crowd was loving me. So, the competitor in him just couldn’t let that go. I wish he wasn’t as petty and I wish he was a bigger man and let me have my damn moment, but he didn’t”.
Destroying Won in the rap battle, Eminem reportedly silenced the whole crowd of extras, with each one gaining a new respect for the rapper who carried an intimidating control over his performance.
Although the scene was later cut from the final edit of the film, it was added to the DVD release of the movie, with Won crediting the moment for revitalising his career, as he revealed to MTV, “It was really huge for me because that was one of the main scenes they sold the DVD on…That was the footage they sent to ‘Entertainment Tonight,’ ‘Extra’ and ‘Access Hollywood.’ It really helped my visibility”.
Remaining good friends to this very day, whilst 8 Mile helped to establish Eminem as an international superstar, it also lifted Marv Won and many others to new heights.
Take a look at the iconic deleted scene, below.