Eminem Remembers '8 Mile' Director Curtis Hanson

Eminem and director Curtis Hanson photographed on the set of '8 Mile' in 2002.
Universal/courtesy Everett Collection

Eminem and director Curtis Hanson photographed on the set of '8 Mile' in 2002. 

Eminem is sharing his sentiments about Curtis Hanson -- the director of the Detroit MC's 2002 semi-autobiographical film, 8 Mile -- who died Tuesday at the age of 71. 

"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," Eminem said in a statement to Billboard

Hanson won a screenwriting Oscar for L.A. Confidential and directed the psychological thriller The Hand That Rocks the Cradle. He was declared dead by paramedics late Tuesday afternoon at his Hollywood Hills home, according to the Los Angeles Police Department, who said he died of "natural causes." 

'8 Mile' Director Curtis Hanson Dies at 71

Hanson spoke about working with Eminem -- who won the Academy Award for Best Original Song for film's soundtrack single, "Lose Yourself" -- in a 2002 interview with Rolling Stone: "I knew going into it that he had experience performing and also adopting a character, Slim Shady," Hanson said. "What I was looking for was actually the opposite of that. When you adopt a characterization, that's artificial. You hide behind that. 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.

"And, so in my getting to know him, I had to assess and then make an educated guess of whether he would be able to do to that and whether he would trust me and the environment I would create enough to do that."

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Hanson also said he didn't want to pigeonhole 8 Mile as a "rap movie." "Hip-hop movies usually illustrate the lyrics of certain kinds of hip-hop songs," he said. "You have a lot of guns, you have a lot of drugs and so forth. Our story is about hip-hop fans. They don't live the life that is depicted in hip-hop lyrics, but they identify of the emotion of those lyrics."

In another interview with Rolling Stone, Hanson praised Eminem, who made his acting debut in 8 Mile: "He's an extraordinarily gifted artist," Hanson said. "If Internet piracy kills the music business, Marshall Mathers need not worry. He'll have another career."