Director Neill Blomkamp apparently wanted Eminem to star in his new sci-fi film Elysium before he cast Matt Damon.
Blomkamp originally envisioned Elysium as a lower-budget movie and approached Ninja, a member of South African rap crew Die Antwoord, to play the lead, Wired reports in an extensive interview feature with the director.
However, Ninja turned him down because he felt the role was too high-profile for his first acting job, at which point Blomkamp contacted Eminem. The rapper was only interested, the Wired feature reveals, if the film could be shot in his hometown of Detroit.
This evidently proved unfeasible for Blomkamp and he then offered the role to Matt Damon, who said yes. Damon stars opposite Jodie Foster in the film, which is set in the year 2159 and finds the human race hopelessly divided. A wealthy elite lives on a flawless man-made space station called Elysium, but the rest of the population is trapped on a ravaged planet Earth, which is now rife with crime and poverty.
Damon plays an ordinary man from Earth who takes on a dangerous mission to enter Elysium by breaching its strict anti-immigration laws. Foster co-stars as Elysium’s ruthless mayor, a woman who’ll stop at nothing to keep him – and anyone else deemed “undesirable” – out of the artificial paradise. Elysium opens in UK cinemas on August 23 and you can watch the trailer below.