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Eminem passed on ‘Elysium’ out of loyalty and support for Detroit

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When director Neill Blomkamp was casting his sci-fi epic Elysium, he knew exactly who he wanted to play the lead role. And it wasn’t Matt Damon.

Blomkamp, who also directed the critically-acclaimed sci-fi hit District 9, wanted famed rapper-and-sometimes actor Eminem to star as car thief Mac DeCosta; who finds himself on an utopian space station ruled by the wealthy and corrupt in the year 2154. The uber-rich enjoy the luxuries of life as other citizens on Earth suffer tremendously. So DeCosta heads to Elysium, the only place that can save mankind and cure the planet’s ills.

But when the juicy lead part in a summer blockbuster was offered to Eminem, he had one major stipulation: Elysium had to be shot in his hometown of Detroit.

Unfortunately, the studio was unwilling to set the production in the Motor City (the film was shot in Los Angeles), and Em decided to move on. Interestingly, Blomkamp wanted another rap artist, South African rapper Ninja of Die Antwoord was also considered.

Obviously, the film’s leading man eventually became Oscar-nominated Hollywood star Matt Damon. Eminem’s loyalty is commendable, considering the financial boost that shooting major motion pictures would give Detroit. Em hasn’t shown himself to be all-too-keen on returning to Hollywood, despite the critically-acclaimed performance he gave in 2002s classic hip-hop film, 8 Mile.

Elysium opens nationwide August 23rd.