The 2020 Oscars took place last weekend and saw Eminem surprise the audience with a performance of his Oscar-winning 8 Mile-soundtrack single, “Lose Yourself.” Now, days after the fact, Academy Awards organizers have explained how they managed to keep it a secret.
Talking to ET, ABC’s senior vice president of alternative series, specials, and life-night programming revealed the performance’s backstory. “I want to say the first time it was ever talked about was after Justin Timberlake opened with ‘Can’t Stop the Feeling’ in . There are just these songs when you have an iconic performer opening with an anthem-like that it just gets everybody pumped up,”
He continued, “We talked about it with the Academy that Eminem, the fact that he never performed that song and it’s such an anthem, and it’s one everybody knows and it won the Oscar. Wouldn’t it be great to figure out a way to get him to come and do that?”
Of course, Mills explained, the timing had to be right. Eminem’s new album Music To Be Murdered By provided the opportunity. “This year the producers … had a relationship with Interscope, his label, and really made it happened — and it surprised us up until a few days before because it really was keeping the circle tight so that nobody would ruin it.”
Mills added, “The element of surprise was really paramount to him that I think had it been leaked, he would have backed out. It was great that it was able to be kept such a huge, jaw-dropping surprise.”
What’s more, Em apparently only rehearsed once, although a back-up plan was put in place just in case he slipped up during the real deal, which, of course, he did not. Watch below.
Earlier this week, Eminem explained why the performance actually took so long to happen, and how he felt about winning the Best Original Song Oscar for “Lose Yourself” 17 years ago.
Speaking to Variety, Eminem revealed that back in 2003, he had zero expectation of winning an award. So much so, he didn’t even bother staying awake for the ceremony. “I think I was just at home with my daughter — and I didn’t watch it, either. At that point in time, Hailie had to be at school early in the morning, so I was sleeping.”
So, when Barbra Streisand announced Eminem as the winner, his collaborator Luis Resto accepted the Oscar in his place. “That to me shows how authentic and real that award is — when you don’t show up and you still win.”
He continued, “I never even thought that I had a chance to win. We had just performed “Lose Yourself” on the Grammys with the Roots a couple of weeks before the Oscars, so we didn’t think it was a good idea.”
So this year, the Oscars decided to pay homage to the iconic 8 Mile soundtrack and reached out to Eminem to see if he’d like to perform. “It was cool because we just put out an album [Music to Be Murdered By], so we said maybe that’ll make sense with the timing.” The Oscars and Rosenberg wanted to keep this as a surprise, so Eminem rehearsed at a secret location one week before the ceremony.
Yet while many were excited about the surprising and nostalgic addition to the Oscars, one person was less amused — creating a moment that has since become our favorite meme of the night. As the cameras panned across the audience, they caught The Irishman director Martin Scorsese taking a nap in the middle of Em’s show. Watch the hilarious moment below.
Scorsese wasn’t the only one with a meme-worthy response to the performance, though. Billie Eilish and Idina Menzel were also caught looking pretty confused.
Keep scrolling for some of the funniest Twitter reactions to Em’s Twitter performance.