Eminem Talks Surprise Oscars Performance & Why He Once Thought the Awards Wouldn't 'Understand' Him

Eminem gave Academy Award viewers the jaw-drop moment of the night on Sunday (Feb. 9), when he delivered a surprise performance of his 8 Mile Hot 100 No. 1 hit, "Lose Yourself."  

The performance comes 17 years after the tune won best original song, though he was not present to receive his award. In an interview with Variety, Em explained why it took him so long to perform the song on the Oscars stage.   

"I kinda figured maybe since I didn’t get a chance to do it at the time, maybe it would be cool," he explained. "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."

"But then 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. That makes it very real to me."

Instead, he was at home during the 2003 ceremony, looking after his daughter Hailie, and he didn't even watch the show. "Luis Resto, my keyboard player who produces records with me, went up and accepted it — and I know people were probably like, 'Who the f— is this guy?'" he recalled. "So he called me, and I remember the phone kept ringing, and I’m like 'Motherf—, I’m tryin’ to sleep!' But [I answered] and he’s like 'Hey man, you won!' 'I did? Sh–! Cool!' But that was a different time and I was in a different place in my life.'

As for the performance this year, it happened pretty quick and Em mentioned that "it was cool because we just put out an album [Music to Be Murdered By], so we said maybe that’ll make sense with the timing of the new album."

He went on to note that he and the band would rehearse off-site and away from the Dolby Theater to keep the performance under wraps, and that when the idea of a secret show was presented to him, he thought it was "kinda dope." When asked if he enjoyed the 2020 Oscars, Em simply replied, "Absolutely. I got to hug Salma Hayek!"

2020 Academy Awards

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