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.
In the documentary Eminem: Diamonds and Pearls, one of Marshall's childhood friends Robert Claus claims to be the inspiration for the Cheddar Bob character in 8 Mile. In the movie, Cheddar Bob is a dumb-but-loveable friend who is also an aspiring emcee. He's best known in the film for shooting himself in the leg.
The real life Bob never actually shot himself, and he doesn't seem nearly as loveable as Cheddar Bob. He did, however, become a modestly successful Emcee by the name of DJ Rec.
In 8 Mile, there is a scene where B-Rabbit and his crew drive around with a paintball gun. They take turns shooting buildings and signs, until Rabbit (the driver) takes his turn and shoots a parked cop car. After a brief chase, Rabbit is able to pull off on a side street and elude the police.
In real life, Marshall Mathers was involved in a similar incident at the age of 20, but he was actually arrested. However, according to police reports, the paintball didn't even break, and Eminem wasn't the shooter, his friend was. Nothing ever came of his arrest, as the alleged victim failed to show up for court. A much less exciting story than the one depicted in 8 Mile.
It's no secret that Marshall Mathers had a less-than-ideal childhood. Now, although Mathers occasionally did live in trailers, he primarily grew up in a small house, pictured on the Marshall Mathers LP.
The trailer park is one of the major sets for the movie 8 Mile, but it didn't play a major role in Eminem's real life.
There's a famous scene in 8 Mile in which B-Rabbit and his crew decide to take justice into their own hands and burn down an abandoned house where a little girl was raped. Neither Eminem nor his crew have ever burned down a house, however. Or, if they did, they never got caught.
The very same week that the Marshall Mathers LP 2 dropped (featuring an image of Em' s now abandoned boyhood home), that same home in Detroit was badly damaged in a fire started by unknown causes. Coincidence?