Curtis Hanson

8 Mile

Interviewed by Alec Cawthorne

The labyrinthine 1997 cop thriller "L.A. Confidential" single-handedly turned Curtis Hanson from competent studio hack (anyone for "The Hand That Rocks the Cradle" or "The River Wild"?) into an acclaimed auteur. The journey to acceptance continued with 2000's "Wonder Boys", and now he's the unlikely man bringing Eminem's semi-autobiographical "8 Mile" to life...

What's going to surprise people the most about Eminem the actor?

Well, it depends what their expectations are. He's never done it before. That was a real challenge for him and for me. In fact, he gave me what all the best actors I've worked with have given me - he gave me respect, complete dedication, and a real commitment to the story we were trying to tell. The result is a screen debut that is not only auspicious, but I am incredibly proud to have been a part of it.

How hard was it for him?

Incredibly hard! He put everything else in his life on hold. He's in every scene of the movie and he wanted to be good. When I say he gave me trust, he trusted me to be his eyes and the barometer of how good he was. And I was very flattered by that and as I say, I think this debut is really going to surprise people. On the last day of shooting I said to him: "How do you feel?" He said: "Never again!" That's how hard it was.

How is the story groundbreaking?

We tried very hard to try and present a view of Detroit in 1995 that felt true. We felt that if we did that, not only would the story be more universal but people would also understand where hip-hop came from and the emotions of which it speaks.