Eminem performed “The Real Slim Shady” and “The Way I Am” at the 2000 MTV Video Music Awards. The Detroit rapper started his performance outside Radio City Music Hall and then entered the venue while rapping and being followed by 100 lookalikes. The Slim Shady impersonators sported bleached blond hair and dressed in white T-shirts and jeans, replicating the rapper’s image in the video for “The Real Slim Shady.”

MTV spoke with Eminem‘s manager, Paul Rosenberg, and two MTV executives who were involved with the show.

“There were tons of concerns about audience flow, people being in their seats, about security and about who could have been a crazy extra dressed up like Eminem,” then-president of MTV Van Toffler says. “I think there was a very high degree of difficulty, but no risk, no reward.”

“Up to that point, that hadn’t been done before,” executive producer Dave Sirulnick says of the entrance into the venue. “We’d had outdoor performances for the pre-show and there had been some remote performances in other years, but the idea of bridging these two together was something we thought would be a great idea. We said, ‘This is the idea to use with Slim Shady.’ It’s so emblematic of who Eminem is. He’s literally starting outside and metaphorically starting as an outsider. These clones would come storming into the building led by Eminem, sweeping in the room to take it over.”

Rosenberg details how the idea to have the look-alikes with Eminem came about.

“I think it was originally Dr. Dre’s idea to create Eminems,” he says. “The whole idea of the song was — there’s a lot of people like me, but I’m the real deal. And also that there’s a lot of carbon copies, but there’s a Slim Shady in all of us.”

Sirulnick say the imagery was striking even for Dre, who produced “The Real Slim Shady.”

“We were starting to work with them and I remember distinctly that we had almost all of them in the lobby of Radio City and then Dr. Dre arrived,” Sirulnick says. “He knew what the performance was and he’d been a part of all that, but it’s still something when you actually see these guys. I remember walking with him and there’s all 100 of them and [Dre] had the greatest reaction, jokingly saying, ‘Oh my God. It’s my worst nightmare.’ He loved it and he was having so much fun with it.”

During the performance, Eminem shook TRL host Carson Daly’s hand. Daly is referenced in the lyrics for “The Real Slim Shady.”

“I’m pretty sure that wasn’t a coincidence,” Rosenberg says. “I think Marshall knew where they were sitting. When you’re rehearsing for these shows, they put these little pictures of where [celebrities] are sitting so you can get an idea of where people will be.”

Eminem then switched personas from Slim Shady to Marshall Mathers as he performed the introspective “The Way I Am.”

“That’s one of the things about Em, as an artist, that I’ve really enjoyed working with,” Rosenberg says, “is that he’s always had this sort of fun accessible stuff that he uses to lead you in and go on a path you might not know you’re going on and then hit you with records like ‘The Way I Am’ or ‘Stan’ or more extreme things like ‘Kim’ and stuff you might not know you’re getting into. So, [the performance] goes along with that theme of starting off where you might think it’s all fun and games and then going into something more serious.”

“To me, it’s that combination of what he was able to do from the mischievous Slim Shady character leading 100 clones into Radio City Music Hall to take over everything and then instantly turning into this guy who’s up there doing this amazing vocal and lyrical performances of ‘The Way I Am,’” Sirulnick says. “It’s one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen.”

For additional Eminem coverage, watch the following DX Daily: