Even though it has been implied that Eminem was chosen for a role in the film Elysium over Matt Damon, Damon says that he and the Detroit rapper were not competing for the main role in the film, which is scheduled to open August 9.
“I don’t even think [Eminem] was my competition,” Damon says during an interview with MTV News. “I think Neill [Blomkamp, director of Elysium] went to him, so there was no competition. He got the offer, but that’s probably 75 percent of the things that I do — somebody else got the offer before — that’s kind of the nature of the business. I think you end up getting the part you’re supposed to get. The right actor gets the part, ultimately. In terms of me, I never asked Neill. I just found out about Eminem because I read it somewhere.”
Damon says that he and Eminem did not even meet during Blomkamp’s casting process. “I think Neill called him, and he passed, and then Neill called me,” the actor says. “It’s not like they bring us all in for the cattle call: ‘Goddamn it, [George] Clooney’s here. I knew it.’ It’s the kind of thing like—before I was married—asking your girlfriend about ex-boyfriends. You don’t want to know, and it doesn’t affect your relationship. You just get the parts you get.”
Eminem wasn’t even the first choice for the role of Max, which eventually went to Damon. Blomkamp, who was raised in South Africa, first approached Die Antwoord rapper and fellow South African Ninja for the part. Like Eminem, Ninja turned the role down. Ninja didn’t want his first acting gig to be an American-accented character in a high-profile film, as per wired.com. “It was a fucked-up, difficult decision,” the musician says to the site. Ninja has an inner-lip tattoo of District 9, the 2009 film that Blomkamp also directed.
Eminem’s last movie role was as Jimmy “B-Rabbit” Smith Jr. in the Curtis Hanson-directed film 8 Mile. Loosely based on Eminem’s life, the movie was released in 2002.