One of the few surprises at Sunday’s Oscars had nothing to do with the actual awards themselves — well, unless you were thinking about past Oscar winners. After a montage celebrating songs in movies, Eminem popped up onstage and launched into a rousing performance of “Lose Yourself,” his “8 Mile” (2002) anthem that won Best Original Song 17 years ago. He didn’t show up then to perform or accept the prize, so why now? Well, better late than never.
“I kinda figured maybe since I didn’t get a chance to do it at the time, maybe it would be cool,” the rapper explained to our sister site “Variety.” “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.”
According to the 15-time Grammy winner, Oscar producers reached out to him as the montage was coming together to ask him to perform. Eminem thought the timing was good because he just released his 11th album, “Music to Be Murdered By,” last month. Though he’s not sure whose idea it was to keep his performance under wraps, he was onboard with it, and the Dolby Theatre was on lockdown during his rehearsals. It was so top secret that Eminem had the option to cancel if news leaked, per “Variety.”
“We flew in [to Los Angeles] last week, so we probably have four or five rehearsals just to make sure we got everything right,” Eminem said. “Most of the rehearsals were offsite, not in [the Dolby Theatre], just trying to keep it secret.”
“Lose Yourself” — whose victory appeared to surprise presenter Barbra Streisand — beat “I Move On” (“Chicago”), “Burn It Blue” (“Frida”), “The Hands That Built America” (“Gangs of New York”) and “Father and Daughter” from “The Wild Thornberrys Movie” in 2003. It was the only song nominee not performed that evening, though Eminem recalled there were some discussions about another artist performing it that ultimately went nowhere. Luis Resto, who co-wrote “Lose Yourself” with Eminem and Jeff Bass, accepted the Oscar. “I know people were probably like, “Who the f— is this guy?” Eminem quipped.
He didn’t even watch the Oscars that night, having gone to bed early to take his daughter to school the next morning. “[Resto] called me, and I remember the phone kept ringing, and I’m like, ‘Motherf—er, I’m tryin’ to sleep!’ But and he’s like, ‘Hey man, you won!’ ‘I did? Sh–! Cool!” he said. “But that was a different time and I was in a different place in my life.”
So did Em enjoy his belated Oscar moment? “Absolutely. I got to hug Salma Hayek!”
— Marshall Mathers (@Eminem) February 10, 2020