Eminem said he was intrigued by keeping his Oscar performance a secret.
Those in the audience at the Dolby Theatre on Sunday night, as well as those watching at home, were quite shocked to see Eminem at the 92nd Academy Awards. Midway through the broadcast, which honors the past year’s achievement in film, the “Godzilla” rapper appeared on stage while the melody to “Lose Yourself” filled the hall. The song is arguably Marshall Mather’s most famous, as he won an Oscar for Best Original Song in 2003 from the 8 Mile movie soundtrack, which also starred the rapper as the lead character. The track made history, becoming the first rap song to ever win in that category.
In spite of the prestigious achievement, Eminem was not present at the 2003 Oscars to pick up his golden statuette — even though the nominated songs are usually performed during the ceremony prior to the winner being announced. “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,” he told Variety on Monday about why he didn’t show up to receive his award. “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.”
17 years later, an older and wiser Em chose to make amends by finally gracing the Oscars stage and keeping the whole performance under wraps until that curtain rose.
“We flew in [to Los Angeles] last week, so we probably have four or five rehearsals just to make sure we got everything right. Most of the rehearsals were offsite, not in [the Dolby Theater], just trying to keep it secret,” he said. “I don’t know, I think it was either [the Oscars’] idea or Paul and [longtime publicist Dennis Dennehy’s] idea before they brought it to me. It was presented to me that way and I said, ‘Oh that’s kinda dope, to not even announce it.’”
Despite some initial shock over Em’s presence, the audience quickly got into the performance with many seen mouthing along to the classic and dancing in their seats.