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The Jake Gyllenhaal film that was meant to be an '8 Mile' sequel


Rarely do movies depicting the lives of fictional artists played by real-life superstars perform well critically and commercially. History speaks for itself with films such as Get Rich or Die Tryin’ with 50 Cent or Cool as Ice starring Vanilla Ice, though one film that bucked this trend was 8 Mile, released in 2002 to great excitement from fans and critics alike. 

Celebrated for Eminem’s surprisingly compelling lead performance, 8 Mile would go on to receive an Oscar for Best Original Song and inspire a whole generation of aspiring young musicians. The film itself is a loose biopic of Eminem’s own career, depicting a young rapper struggling with life who, despite his burning ambitions, finds a music career personally and professionally challenging. 

Starring the likes of Brittany Murphy, Kim Basinger, Michael Shannon, alongside Eminem, 8 Mile also features Anthony Mackie as the main antagonist, a renowned rapper called Papa Doc. Recalling how Eminem took a leading role in adapting the script to make Mackie’s character seem worse, the actor states that the MC approached him on set and said: “So you don’t mind if I add some stuff in the script about you? I was like ‘About me or the character?’. He’s like ‘no, no just some character stuff'”. 

Continuing, Mackie recalls, “So before the entire 8 Mile final battle, he googles me and learns about me and all that stuff he basically makes fun of me as Papa Doc. [Laughs] And then I’m like ‘That’s a little personal Mr. Marshall…He literally walked over and said this gonna be dope”. Granted, it is the climactic rap battle of the film that is well remembered for good reason, as Eminem uses real-life material to dismantle Mackie’s character. 

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Concluding the film with the suggestion that Eminem’s character, Jimmy ‘B-Rabbit’ Smith makes it big in the industry, it’s certainly a surprise that a sequel to the popular film never materialised. Interestingly, however, it appears as though a sequel to 8 Mile was in fact written by Sons of Anarchy series creator Kurt Sutter, with the second film following a boxer who loses custody of his daughter and his battle to win her back. 

The film fascinatingly did materialise in 2015, though not as an 8 Mile sequel, but instead as Southpaw, starring Jake Gyllenhaal instead of Eminem in the lead role. Speaking to Deadline about the change, he said: “In a way, this is a continuation of the 8 Mile story, but we are doing a metaphorical narrative of the second chapter of his life. He’ll play a world champion boxer who really hits a hard bottom, and has to fight to win back his life for his young daughter. At its core, this is a retelling of his struggles over the last five years of his life, using the boxing analogy”. 

Take a look at the trailer for Southpaw, the spiritual sequel to 8 Mile, below.

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