Mekhi Phifer

8 Mile

Interviewed by Alec Cawthorne

Having survived the horrors of "I Still Know What You Did Last Summer", and seeing "O" become immersed in post-Columbine debate, Harlem-born actor Mekhi Phifer raps along with Eminem in "8 Mile"...

How was it being part of this movie?

It was great, man! Eminem is a friend of mine and it was wonderful. We became close and it was great.

You nearly didn't do it though. Why?

I've done 21 films in eight years and I've said "No" more times than I've done films. And yeah, I almost said no to this one. I just felt Hollywood was simply trying to capitalize on Eminem's popularity rather than really trying to stay true to the integrity of the things he's gone through. I didn't know how passionate he was about acting. So I didn't really know until I met him. I flew to Detroit and met him and loved the guy right off the top. Then we read together and it just worked.

You play his best friend, Future. How did you build a rapport together?

We hung out together for about a month before we started shooting. We went to football games and parties and stuff, and had fun.

You rap in the movie. Did that come easily to you?

I had so much fun with rapping. A lot of that stuff was off the cuff improv. You know, you can't script the kind of stuff I say in this film. It was great.