8 Mile is a 2002 drama starring Eminem, loosely based on his life. "Loose" is the operative word here. The film is set in 1995, and follows an aspiring young white rapper living in a trailer park on 8 Mile Road, just outside of Detroit. The main character, Jimmy (AKA B-Rabbit), gets his start rapping in battles held at The Shelter, a real venue in Detroit with a rich history of hip-hop. B-Rabbit goes through some rough patches with his mother, has a soft spot for his younger sibling, and has a tumultuous on-again-off-again relationship with a charming (if severely damaged) young blonde woman. The similarities are striking, to say the least, but what's the true story behind 8 Mile? Is it really based on Eminem's life? Did Shady really choke in that battle?
While some things are true, a lot of the film's plot points were fabricated for the sake of narrative. Cheddar Bob is real, for example, but he's not a total moron. Marshall lived outside of Detroit, but never in a trailer park. Oh, and that scene with the paintball gun? Let's just say it didn't end so well in real life. If you're curious as to whether your favorite part of the movie really happened, check out these comparisons between 8 Mile and reality.
Eminem Never Worked In A Factory
Just like in Shady's real life, Rabbit worked menial jobs to make ends meet while he pursued his dreams of making it as a rapper. In 8 Mile, Rabbit works at an automotive factory, which makes sense. The automotive industry was still mostly viable in Detroit at the time.
However, the real Slim Shady worked as a short order cook at a restaurant called Gilbert's Lodge before getting signed by Dre.
Alex Doesn't Hold A Candle To Kim
In 8 Mile, Jimmy meets his love interest, Alex (Brittany Murphy), at work. They hook up, he falls for her, and then he walks in on her banging another dude. Just another day at the office, right? Although the infidelity, intensity, and volatility of their relationship draws parallels to Marshall's real life relationship with Kim Scott, some of the details don't line up.
Mathers met Scott when he was just 15, and had a long term (albeit tumultuos) relationship with her while he was struggling to come up in the scene, and the two had a daughter together in 1995 (the year the movie takes place). This is quite different than the fleeting romance viewers see Jimmy and Alex share.
B-Rabbit Struggles When Eminem Succeeds
B-Rabbit struggles throughout the course of the 8 Mile to get studio time and put out an album. His only real avenue of success is to preform in rap battles, both at work and at The Shelter.
Now, Eminem really did get his start doing battles, some of which were even held at The Shelter (a real venue in Detroit), but Eminem actually recorded his first album, Infinite, in 1995, and released it a year later in 1996. It's a much different trajectory than his 8 Mile counter part, who's far from famous in 1995.
B-Rabbit Was Actually Mickey Mouse
The way Marshall Mathers got his rap moniker is rather simple, his initials M.M., or, Eminem. In 8 Mile you find out that Em's character Jimmy got his stage name from a childhood nickname. His mom started calling him "Bunny Rabbit," because he had big ears and buck teeth as a kid and the name stuck around.
In real life, baby Marshall really did have big ears, but his family called him "Mickey" (as in mouse), rather than Rabbit.