Rockstar had the chance to make a Grand Theft Auto movie with rapper Eminem in the leading role, but turned the offer down after realizing GTA had much more potential as video games. The new tidbit comes Bugzy Malone’s Grandest Game, a new podcast series from BBC Radio 5 Live featuring interviews with rapper Bugzy Malone and others reflecting on the series for its 25th anniversary
Kirk Ewing, an agent for Hollywood talent agency ICM during GTA‘s formative years, knew Rockstar’s Sam Houser and saw potential in the rapidly growing series, but not solely as a video game franchise.
“Because of the relationship that I had with Rockstar and I had with Sam, I actually tracked him down to his hotel room one night where I knew he was going to be staying and the two of us stayed up late and talked about the possibility of making a film, and this was just after [GTA] 3,” Ewing said.
“I remember taking a call about 4 a.m. from a producer in Los Angeles with an offer to make a film, and he said: ‘Kirk, we’ve got Eminem to star, and it’s a Tony Scott film, five million on the nose, are you interested?’ and I phoned up Sam and said ‘Look, listen to this, they want Eminem in the Grand Theft Auto movie and Tony Scott to direct, and he said: ‘Not interested.’”
Ewing said that, despite Houser initially showing interest, Rockstar withdrew from all talks about the possibility of making a film after that, a decision which Ewing speculated came from realizing the franchise was much bigger than any movie, or any conversation about a movie, could be.
Whether Houser had such a hunch or not, it certainly proved to be true. GTA V, a PS3 game released almost a decade ago, routinely shows up in the top 20 best-selling games each month.
Ewing’s recollections are among the many that Bugzy Malone and BBC Radio 5 Live’s Chris Warburton piece together as they delve into the series’ multifaceted history and the lasting impact GTA had on games and culture, which Bugzy Malone said mirrored his own life in key ways.
“When I was growing up, Grand Theft Auto allowed me to immerse myself into a high-energy world and allowed me a freedom I didn’t always have on a day-to-day basis,” Buzgy Malone said. “It is a gaming experience like no other and I know that feeling is shared by millions of its fans.”
All seven episodes of Bugzy Malone’s Grandest Game are live now on BBC 5 Radio Live.
Written by Josh Broadwell on behalf of GLHF