Eminem almost starred in a now-scrapped ‘Grand Theft Auto’ movie in 2001

Rapper Eminem was in early talks to star in a 2001 Grand Theft Auto film, before the project was scrapped by the game’s publishers.

In the early 2000s, Eminem pitched an idea for a film rendition of Grand Theft Auto, only to have the video game’s publisher, Rockstar Games, reject the rapper’s million-dollar offer. News of the scrapped video game film was revealed on a recent episode of Bugzy Malone’s Grandest Game podcast, during which he interviewed video game industry veteran, Kirk Ewing. 

Erwing, who was a close friend of Rockstar Games founders Sam and Dan Houser, said a Hollywood agent presented him with a film deal around the time of Grand Theft Auto 3’s 2001 release. The founders were reportedly offered $5 million for the rights to a Grand Theft Auto movie starring Eminem, with Top Gun director Tony Scott attached as the director.    

Credit: Michael Caulfield Archive / WireImage

However, when presented with the deal for a silver screen rendering of the action-adventure video game, Sam Houser rejected the offer, despite the surging popularity GTA’s third instalment at the time. I think at that point it was still in Sam’s mind that [a movie] might be something that he wanted to do, Kirk recalled on the podcast.

[But] they realised that the media franchise that they had was bigger than any movie that was going on at the time.” Despite a potential role on GTA being scrapped, Eminem would go on to star in 8 Mile, which was released in 2002 and offered a semi-autobiographical look at the rapper’s origins as Marshall Mathers. A year prior, Eminem released his eponymous third studio album, The Marshall Mathers LP

Credit: Rockstar

The Houser brothers’ insistence that GTA surpassed the popularity of cinema was well-placed, given that the video game franchise would go on to be named the most successful entertainment title ever in 2018 (upstaging the likes of James Cameron’s Avatar film). While the game publisher’s avoided the film industry at the time, they last year ventured into music, partnering with dance brand Circoloco to create Circoloco Records.  

In other film/gaming news, the trailer for The Super Mario Bros Movie was released earlier this month. The movie rendition of everyone’s favourite Nintendo plumbers will premiere in 2023, and enlists a voice acting cast including Chris Pratt as Mario, Jack Black as Bowser, and Anya Taylor-Joy as Princess Peach (who, if you’ve ever played Super Smash Bros., you’ll know is more than capable of escaping Bowser’s clutches on her own).