Mekhi Phifer Explains His ‘8 Mile’ Decision

Mekhi Phifer was on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno to briefly chat about his role in the starring ‘8 Mile’. Mekhi talked about how at first he didn’t want to take on the role, until he met and saw how passionate he was about the project. Read on for a transcript.

Jay: [ Laughter ] Now let me ask you about “8 mile.” Because I read you
initially passed on this part.

Mekhi: I initially passed on the part.

Jay: Why? Why?

Mekhi: Because I have a lot of passion for the craft and what I do.
I thought maybe hollywood, as hollywood sometimes, they capitalize on musicians’
popularity rather than their talent. And I wanted to be involved with passionate,
talented people.

Jay: So what happened. So was it meeting with eminem that sold you on
it? Was it meeting with the producer? What was it?

Mekhi: Through some convincing, my agent, who’s here, and a couple other
people. I flew to detroit, met with eminem. Great cat. The first five minutes,
I was like, “I like this dude.”

Jay: Was it his choice or your choice? Suppose he had said —

Mekhi: “I don’t like this cat.”

Jay: No, you know what I’m saying, though.

Mekhi: Yeah, yeah.

Jay: Did he want you and then you tried —

Mekhi: I think it was a collaboration. I think curtis hanson, myself,
eminem, I think we all shared a certain passion and, you know, we wanted
to do the film.

Jay: Tell us about your character. You’ve got the dreadlocks. Is that
comfortable with the dreadlocks?

Mekhi: Actually it’s detroit, and I don’t know if anybody’s been to
detroit or is from detroit.

Mekhi: Oh, yeah.

Mekhi: Okay, yeah. Motown, baby. It’s very cold. You know? So it was
like having a hat on.

[ Laughter ] Like having a wool hat.

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