Antoine Fuqua on Why Eminem Didn’t Star in Southpaw

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It’s no secret that Southpaw was originally intended to be a vehicle for Eminem.

Sons of Anarchy creator Kurt Sutter had penned the film to somewhat mimic the rapper’s life, a film that was to be firmly in the vain of 8 Mile. The project was put on hold when it became clear that Eminem would not be jumping on board as first planned. Director Antoine Fuqua (Training Day, Shooter, Olympus has Fallen, The Equalizer) became attached, and Jake Gyllenhaal soon replaced Eminem.

Talking to The Playlist, Fuqua described why it was that Eminem would not go ahead with the part. Essentially, being a full-time musician, the time-consuming nature of such a role was simply too much for Eminem to commit to.

Fuqua explains: “He was focused on his music at the time, as he should’ve, and when I told him I needed him to train twice a day, seven days a week, he was honest. He said, ‘Dude, I can’t give you what you need to do that.’ And I appreciate him for doing that.”

Ultimately, things appear to have materialised the way they were meant to, and Eminem himself looks to think so. According to Fuqua: “He watched the movie and turned to me and said, ‘I couldn’t have done that. Jake killed it.’ So I love him for that, because he was straight up about it.”

Gyllenhaal certainly looks to have “killed it”. The actor follows his impressive performance in Nightcrawler, which saw him sporting a gaunt, almost sickly look, with a turn as a buffed-up boxer on the road to redemption. If the buzz surrounding his turn here is right, we’re in for another great Gyllenhaal performance.

Fuqua is currently filming The Magnificent Seven, a remake of Akira Kurosawa’s 1954 masterpiece Seven Samurai. The remake, starring Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, Matt Bomer, Vincent D’Onofrio, and Byung-hun Lee, is set for U.S. release on January 13, 2017.

Southpaw will hit U.S. cinemas on July 24 and Australian cinemas on August 20.