As an actor, Eminem has a relatively limited filmography, but he made his time on screen count with a classic starring role in 2002’s 8 Mile. Around that time, though, he apparently came close to starring in a film adaptation of one of the biggest video game franchises ever: Grand Theft Auto.
In a new episode of BBC’s Bugzy Malone’s Grandest Game podcast (as NME reports), Kirk Ewing, a game industry veteran and friend of GTA creators Sam and Dan Houser, told the story. Around the time of Grand Theft Auto 3‘s release in 2001, a Hollywood agent approached Ewing with an offer of $5 million for the rights to a GTA movie starring Eminem and directed by Tony Scott (who directed Top Gun). However, the Housers were not interested.
Ewing said, “I think at that point it was still in Sam’s mind that it might be something that he wanted to do. “He said ‘Kirk, we’ve got Eminem to star, and it’s a Tony Scott film. $5 million on the nose. Are you interested?’ 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.’ And he said, ‘Not interested.’”
Ewing also noted that at the time, the brothers felt “the media franchise that they had was bigger than any movie that was going on at the time.”
Indeed, it was: 2013’s Grand Theft Auto V is the second best-selling video game ever, behind only Minecraft.