Eminem: Wow, that’s crazy. I forgot about the Lions game, man! That was nuts!
Mackie: My ’hood-ass group, Em was taking me to shoot pool and strippers was jacking me out of my per diem and shit!
Eminem: We was making it rain with your per diem?
Mackie: We was at the bedbug inn and I was fighting in the parking lots of strip clubs for per diem. When keeping it real goes wrong.
Eminem: “Making It Rain With Per Diem,” I think that might be the name of my next album.
Movies are a collaborative process, and they can get screwed up at any point in the creative process. When did you first begin to feel confident that this would be a successful motion picture?
Benson Miller: Evan and I talk about it a lot, us all being so young... I had no idea it was going to be a classic. Even when the movie came out and was a mammoth, I just thought this was how everything goes… But I remember Curtis had us all come together to show us a little highlight reel of the film. It was probably four or five minutes, and it was dope! Everybody was like, “Oh, we’re on to something now!”
Eminem: I was just hoping I didn’t look stupid in that shit. “I just hope that it’s a decent movie and it does okay and just doesn’t suck.”
Phifer: I remember our first day of shooting was when we was leaving Cheddar Bob’s house because he shot himself, and we go into Big O’s little car… It felt real. And when me and Em was doing “Sweet Home Alabama.” But when I really knew was in the battle scenes; the crowd, the extras, they made those battle scenes. The rhymes were dope, but the extras were… They made it hype. Being up there hosting and feeling that energy, it just felt… special. Even our energy in the scenes, it felt like something I hadn’t done before. It didn’t feel actor-y. It just felt like we were “being.”
How were the battle scenes written?
Eminem: I think Curtis had a lot of the guys write their own things, and then I would see what they were going to say. I might sit there with some of the guys and be like, “What if you changed this?” The hardest thing for me was trying to figure out what that last [rhyme] was going to be. As I was going back and forth with the other guys about what they were going to say—“Okay, if you’re going to say that, then I’ll write this”—the last one was [challenging] because I didn’t have anything to respond off of. So I had to write it myself, off what somebody could say to me.
Mackie: I’ve gotta give it to Curtis, because he challenged us. It wasn’t just, “Okay, bring us what you’ve got.” He kept you on edge, like, is this enough? Am I giving enough?
Eminem: That’s the other thing, too, with the battle scenes. I remember him saying, “This shit has gotta be flawless. [Then] Curtis would say, “Is this good enough?” I went back and rewrote a couple of lines. Curtis definitely, definitely pushed us.
Anthony, you play Papa Doc, the leader of Free World. Now, I don’t mean to start any fights 10 years after the fact, but do you think Rabbit still could’ve won had his manager not been the host?
Mackie: Man, fuck no! I told Curtis, “There is no way he would’ve won that battle!” That was my whole argument! I said, we should have a tie at first and that’s when he comes back and do the shit he did. But when we did it, it was so cold and it worked so well. The energy of the crowd was so intense when we was filming that people was passing out and shit, throwing up because it was just so chaotic in there. Still, I know for a fact, if the Chin Tiki was that crazy, no way he could have beat me if his manager wasn’t the host. If I’m the killuminati of the Tiki?
Phifer: That wasn’t at the Chin Tiki, fool! Go watch the movie again. That was at The Shelter! [Laughs]
Eminem: Man, we had 10 freaky girls in the Chin Tiki. How were you fucking it up?
Jones: You know, you had the line where you said, “This guy went to Cranbrook, that’s a private school,” and we all thought whatever… But Mitt Romney went there!
Mackie: That’s crazy. I didn’t know that!
Phifer: That’s the type of cats Papa Doc was hanging out with. Straight Republicans.
Mackie: When Papa Doc became mayor of Detroit, I bulldozed all that shit.
Evan, Omar was talking about you getting recognized as Cheddar Bob. Have you learned to shoot a gun in the past 10 years?
Jones: The gun in that movie was the crappiest gun I’ve seen, ever, in all the movies I’ve been in.
Eminem: That was like a cowboy gun.
Jones: I love that Plaxico Burress was called Cheddar Bob forever.
Benson Miller: Cheddar Bob has gotten hella rap references.
Phifer: Beanie Sigel.
Eminem: Busta Rhymes.
Phifer: You know what’s so funny, Evan? You did
your thing, B, because people come up to me sometimes and go, “Was Cheddar Bob really like that?” I’m like, “Nah, Evan is good! He’s not mildly retarded or nothing. He’s a very intelligent man!”
Phifer: But he played that role, that’s what I’m saying! You played it!