Legendary rapper Eminem is not a secretive guy. Almost all of his songs are about his personal life and opinions, so it’s safe to assume we already know a lot about him. While this may be partially true, just because we listen to his lyrics doesn’t mean we know the man behind the music — the real Slim Shady.
With vicious raps channeling anger born from a troubled childhood, the Grammy winner’s reached highs the rest of us can only dream of — and lows not even our nightmares would touch. We’re here to reveal that rocky past, those secrets to success, and the lesser-known quirks that make Eminem one of the biggest music superstars today…
1. His real, real name: If you’ve heard more than three songs by Eminem, you know he didn’t have the best childhood. What you may not know is that his real name is Marshall Bruce Mathers III, named after his father.
Their name, however, is about the extent of what this father/son duo share. Eminem’s father, Marshal Mathers Jr. left when he was still a baby, so he was raised by his mother Deborah, who he accused of drug abuse.
2. He wanted to be a comic book writer: Throughout his childhood, he was always eager to tell stories and considered becoming a comic book artist. It wasn’t until he watched the movie Breakin’ and heard the soundtrack by Ice-T that he learned about hip-hop and fell in love with it instantly.
3. He started young: When he was 14, Marshall began sneaking into Osborn High School with his friend Proof for lunchroom freestyle rap battles. On weekends, the would attend open mic contests at the Hip-hop Shop on West 7 Mile.
4. He has a younger half-brother: Also at age 14, he welcomed a baby half-brother named Nathan into the family. He later grew up to be a rapper as well. He was taken away from his mother by the state when he was ten years old, at which point he began living in a foster home. Nate would later appear on tour with his older brother and in a few of his music videos!
5. Eminem was often bullied: One time, a bully named De’Angelo Bailey severely injured Marshall’s head. When Deborah sued the school, it was dismissed the following year. Em raps about it all in his song “Brain Damage.”
6. He’s a high school drop out: Whether it was due to him skipping class to rap or ditching class to avoid his bullies, Marshall failed the 9th grade three times before dropping out of school altogether. He took jobs working as a cook, a dishwasher, and a line worker at the local auto plant.
7. He met Kim when he was 15: Mathers met his on-again off-again, often-rapped-about love interest in high school after he stood on a table with his shirt off, rapping to LL Cool J’s “I’m Bad.” Kim and her twin sister, Dawn, had run away from home, and moved in with Eminem when he was 15.
8. His daughter was born on Christmas: Kim and Marshall’s daughter Hailie was born on Christmas day, 1995, when Em was only 23 and Kim was only 20. The couple divorced in 2001, remarried in 2006, and filed for divorce again only a few months later.
9. Hailey’s not his only child: After their divorce, Kim and Marshall agreed to joint custody of Hailie, but what most don’t know is that he also has custody of Kim’s niece Alaina, as well as Whitney, Kim’s daughter from another relationship.
10. He still mourns his earliest collaborator: As Eminem’s reputation grew, his first recruitment came from the New Jacks and Soul Intent, the latter of which released a single featuring Proof. The pair would team up with four other rappers to form The Dirty Dozen, which would also be known as D12. Proof was shot to death 2006, and Eminem still mourns him in his songs.
11. His first album was a flop: Despite his popularity among local rap battles and clubs, Eminem’s first album, Infinite, was a huge commercial failure. Although he was praised for his lyrical skills, critics said he had a lot to learn, and radio DJs suggested he go into Rock ‘N Roll instead. Thankfully, he didn’t consider that for a second.
12. The Rap Olympics made him: Instead of giving up, Em flew to L.A. in 1997 to compete in the Rap Olympics. He placed second in the entire competition and was noticed by several producers. He put on such a good fight, Interscope Records brought back a copy of his demos to Dr. Dre — the beginning of his success.
13. Dr. Dre gave him a label as a thank you gift: With the help of Dr. Dre, Eminem’s second album The Slim Shady LP went triple platinum with its first single “My Name Is” becoming #36 on the Billboard charts. Interscope Records awarded its protégé with his own record label, Shady Records.
14. The identity of the Real Slim Shady: According to the rapper, Slim is a persona to which Eminem often references on the Slim Shady LP and songs like ‘The Real Slim Shady.” He doesn’t see Slim as himself, but rather as his anger and his attitude. Eminem is the man while Slim is his outlet.
15. He sang a duet with Elton John: During his career, Eminem was often criticized for his excessive profanity, glorification of drugs and violence, homophobia and misogyny. However, he claims it is all artistic liberty, and that those are not necessarily his morals. To express an open mind to the gay community, he performed a duet with Elton John at the Grammys.
16. Eminem has been sued at least 5 times: He was sued twice over music rights and three times for personal reasons. His mom, his ex-wife, and his old high school bully De’Angelo Bailey all sued him for defamation and slandering through song lyrics, but Em seemed to be legally bulletproof — or almost…
17. The Secret Service watched him: In 2003, the United States Secret Service reported that it was “looking into” allegations that Eminem threatened U.S. President George W. Bush after he sang “I don’t rap for dead presidents. I’d rather see the president dead.” He had to change the lyrics, as the Secret Service did not appreciate the nuances of rap.
18. Addiction nearly killed him: Following his second divorce, Eminem seemed to disappear off the grid. He was recording very little music and developed drug and alcohol problems. It got so bad that he overdosed on painkillers and sleeping pills, and nearly died in 2007.
19. He’s clean and sober: The good news is that he kicked his addictions a year later, and ditched his angry lyrics for inspirational ones, saying “I feel that if I can help people that have been through a similar situation, then, you know, why not?” He wrote the albums Rehab, Relapse, and Recovery about the whole experience.
20. He got up close and personal with Sacha Baron Cohen: During the 2009 MTV Movie Awards, Bruno star Sacha Baron Cohen, dressed as the titular character, descended onto the audience and, with his buttocks out, landed on Eminem’s head. The rapper stormed out of the ceremony, but said that after he left, he “laughed uncontrollably for about three hours.”
21. He feuded to defend his daughter: In 2018, Em had a public feud with fellow rapper Machine Gun Kelly, after MGK supposedly called Hailie Mathers attractive. However, there are suspicions that since the two are both signed by the same label, it was merely a publicity stunt to hype up both their careers. That wasn’t his only musical feud though…
22. Eminem once claimed he had a relationship with singer Mariah Carey: She denied this and wrote a song about him called “Obsessed” while dressing like him in the music video. Em did not take kindly to the mockery and released a diss track called “The Warning.”
23. He’s to thank for the 8 Mile Soundtrack: Most Eminem fans have seen his semi-biographical movie 8 Mile, but few people know that the iconic soundtrack “Lose Yourself” was originally supposed to be “Cleaning Out My Closet.” Em insisted on swapping it for the faster tune.
24. Eminem is one of the most successful rappers in history: Despite his critics and personal issues, not only is he featured in the Guinness Book of World Records for the most successive US number 1 albums by a solo artist, he has won 13 Grammys and seems to currently be on a positive path in life.
The real Slim Shady has stood up! He’s one of the few artists out there to find the sweet spot between mainstream success and bold, edgy music. But he certainly isn’t the only iconic star who has done a lot of growing up. Can you recognize these protostars..?
Try to imagine this performer without the glasses and paper hat. She had an early start to her showbiz career with a starring role on Barney & Friends, but even after she stopped working with the dinosaur, her career didn’t go extinct.
After emerging as a huge Disney star, Demi Lovato has rattled off a string of pop hits. In addition, she’s also stood out as a key advocate for mental health awareness and marriage equality.
Once an aspiring actress, she felt thrilled to land a gig as a mere briefcase girl on Deal or No Deal. Just a few years later, this woman set aside her dreams of becoming Hollywood royalty.
That’s only because she became literal royalty! After a successful tenure on the USA drama Suits, Meghan Markle began dating Prince Harry. They wed in 2018, and the rest is a story fit for a fairytale.
Growing up in Barbados, Rihanna started a musical group with a couple of high school friends. Her big break came when she impressed an American record producer, who then introduced her to Jay-Z. Ever since there’s hardly been a cloud in sight for Rihanna.
This kid looks like he could’ve been the star of a 1980s sitcom! That never came to pass, but he did do some pretty cool stuff throughout his childhood. He started writing poetry at age 5, and he lived in China for a period of time.
Do you miss the old Kanye? That little kid grew up to be perhaps the most influential artist today, both for his record-breaking albums and for his controversial offstage antics. Love him or hate him, Kanye West is always interesting.
Los Angeles Times
That’s one cute kid, man! See what we did there? It’s Nicole Kidman! Since straightening out her childhood curls, she’s won an Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in The Hours, and she’s married Keith Urban.
Chances are you don’t recognize the stone-faced kid in the driver’s seat. While on a family trip to New York a couple of years later, however, she signed with a talent scout and caught enough fire to become a huge star.
Now pretty much everybody knows Jennifer Lawrence! Starring in blockbusters like The Hunger Games, X-Men, and Silver Linings Playbook, she’s both wooed the critics and raked in huge box office paydays.
While attending high school in Toronto, Aubrey Graham decided to pursue an acting career. Here’s his headshot from picture day, though he gained fame for attending an entirely different — not to mention fictional — school.
Going by his middle name, Drake joined the cast of the teen drama Degrassi: The Next Generation before focusing on music. The hip-hop artist has broken the record for most Billboard Hot 100 records by a solo performer.
With a film producer dad and a script supervisor mom, it seemed perfectly natural for this kid to enter showbiz. In 2002, she landed her first major role as Jodie Foster’s daughter in Panic Room.
Worldwide audiences really came to know Kristen Stewart from her vampire-loving lead role in the Twilight Series. Recently, she’s transitioned into more of an indie film darling and has even begun directing.
A Bronx native, this girl ignored her family’s insistence that she would never become a movie star. She found some work in regional theater productions and landed a background dancing gig as a Fly Girl on In Living Color. But now everybody knows Jenny from the Block.
The cast of Hook (then): Hook was a beloved kids’ movie directed by Steven Spielberg that got people excited about Peter Pan again. The Lost Boys were the best part of the whole film, and the food fight scene is always a fan favorite.
Hook (now): The Lost Boys are all grown up now, even though they lived in a place where growing up was frowned upon! Twenty-five years after the movie was released in theaters, the cast came together to take this epic picture.
The Cast of A League of Their Own (then): This classic baseball film had people all over saying the phrase, “There’s no crying in baseball!” The Rockford Peaches impressed audiences everywhere with their enthusiasm and camaraderie.
A League of Their Own (now): The ladies of the Rockford Peaches don’t play too much baseball anymore, but they all came together for a great picture on a baseball diamond on Mother’s Day in 2016. They were even joined by Gina Casey, a real-life Rockford Peach!
The Cast of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (then): This classic tale of Charlie Bucket and Willy Wonka’s candy factory hit the sweet tooth of every child who saw it. Everyone wanted to win a golden ticket for the grand tour.
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (now): In 2011, four of the cast members reunited for the film’s 40th anniversary. The actress who played Veruca Salt was the only one of the kids who went on to continue with a career in film.
The Cast of The Big Lebowski (then): This Coen Brothers’ movie from 1998 introduced the world to Jeffrey “The Dude” Lebowski and his crew of misfit friends. Since its release, the film has become a cult classic with cinephiles everywhere.
The Big Lebowski (now): Nearly all of the main actors who played in the movie went on to have hugely successful movie and television careers. Apparently, at the reunion, it was hard to hear any of the actors speak because of screaming fans.
The Cast of The Goonies (then): The Goonies brought worldwide audiences with them while the group of boys searched for One-Eyed Willie’s treasure. Plus, who can forget Chunk’s famous “Truffle Shuffle?”
The Goonies (now): In 2009, the cast got together for a 20th anniversary reunion, and it was actually the first time all the actors had been in the same room since filming. Chunk is now a lawyer and probably won’t be revisiting his Truffle Shuffle anytime soon, though.
Clueless (then): Clueless was a favorite among teens, and it still is to this day. Alicia Silverstone starred as Cher in this modern retelling of Jane Austen’s Emma. Audiences loved the valley girl shtick Silverstone perfected.
Clueless (now): The cast came together in 2012 for a photo shoot. Paul Rudd and Jeremy Sisto aren’t pictured here, but you can be sure they attended. Unfortunately, the only person missing was Brittany Murphy, who had passed away three years earlier.
Napoleon Dynamite (then): Napoleon Dynamite set the bar high for quirky independent comedies when it came out in 2004. The movie was full of relatively unknown actors at the time, but they all played their roles perfectly, making the movie an instant classic.
Napoleon Dynamite (now): Seeing the actors off set is quite interesting. Napoleon’s geeky attire is gone, and the other characters don’t have their oddball personas either. One thing’s for sure: the world still wants to vote for Pedro.
The Princess Bride (then): In 1987, this film had audiences all over the world laughing hysterically. It’s one of the most quotable movies of all time, and with characters such as Princess Buttercup, Westley, Inigo Montoya, and Vizzini, it would be.
The Princess Bride (now): The entire cast, except for the late Andre the Giant, came together in 2009 for an awesome photo shoot. The group also attended the 25th anniversary screening at the 50th New York Film Festival in New York City.
The Breakfast Club (then): A jock, a nerd, a criminal, a princess, and a basket case won the hearts of movie-goers everywhere in this film. This classic 1985 John Hughes movie starring the Brat Pack spoke to teenage angst.
The Breakfast Club (now): In 2010, the group (minus Emilio Estevez) got together for the 25th reunion of the film’s opening. It was said that Estevez may have been too busy filming another Mighty Ducks movie to attend, but that rumor was never confirmed.
Ghostbusters (then): This motley crew of paranormal investigators was introduced to the world in 1984. The movie was a great mix of comedy and horror, and the actors themselves were already on their way to becoming comedy legends.
Ghostbusters (now): Pretty much the entire cast of Ghostbusters went on to make tons of great films. Bill Murray established himself as somewhat of a comedy god, and to this day, he still makes everyone laugh with his eccentric roles.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show (then): This 1975 rock musical pushed the boundaries of risque cinema, although today it’s timid in comparison. It’s since become such a cult hit that it’s still shown all over the world at special midnight screenings.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show (now): Amazingly, the film was considered a huge flop when it came out, but it didn’t seem to affect the future careers of any of its stars. Now, however, the movie is bigger than any of the actors could have predicted at the time.
Forrest Gump (then): Audiences fell in love with the movie’s titular character almost immediately. He was simple man with a lot of love to give, and Tom Hanks played the role impeccably. The movie went on to win the Academy Award for “Best Picture” in 1994.
Forrest Gump (now): In 2014, Gary Sinise, the actor who played Lieutenant Dan, held a Hollywood Salutes Heroes event to honor those who serve in the U.S. Armed Forces, and the three lead actors all took a selfie backstage.
School of Rock (then): Richard Linklater’s 1994 film about a substitute teacher who puts on a rock concert with his students took months to cast, but in the end, the group of kids they decided on came together in the perfect ensemble.
School of Rock (now): Ten years after the movie hit theaters, the entire cast of kids got back together and, well… they sure aren’t kids anymore! The Austin Film Society even had the cast put on a rock concert for audience members.
The Way We Were (then): In 1973, Barbara Streisand and Robert Redford, two of the world’s biggest stars, came together for The Way We Were, a romantic drama directed by acclaimed director Sydney Pollack.
The Way We Were (now): In 2015, more than 40 years later, the Film Society of Lincoln Center held the Chaplin Awards; Redford was presented with the award by Streisand. Streisand had received it two years prior, as well.
The Sound of Music (then): This 1965 movie mesmerized audiences with its songs and lovable characters. It swept the Academy Awards the year it came out, and audiences everywhere were hoping the hills by their homes were alive with the sound of music.
The Sound of Music (now): The Von Trapp family reunited on a special episode of Oprah Winfrey’s show, and guess what? They’re all grown up! The cast was all smiles while they stood on stage for a thrilled audience.
Goodfellas (then): Martin Scorsese’s hard-hitting gangster film was full of intimidating performances by the lead Mafia men, specifically Joe Pesci, who actually won an Academy Award for his maniacal role.
Goodfellas (now): In 2015, the Tribeca Film Festival, which was actually created by Robert De Niro, screened a new print of the movie to close out the festival. In a Q&A afterwards, audiences learned Joe Pesci’s famous “funny” scene was mostly improvised!
Aliens (then): Sigourney Weaver became the highest paid actress in 1986 by making $1 million for her reprisal as Ellen Ripley in Aliens, the sequel to the incredibly popular Alien. It’s one of the few sequels people say is actually better than the original.
Aliens (now): In 2011, the cast of the film came together at an Entertainment Weekly reunion. They even had a life-size version of an alien available for the shoot! These actors didn’t seem too terrified of the Xenomorph…
A Christmas Story (then): Everyone has a favorite Christmas movie, and A Christmas Story takes the cake for most people. From the relatable kids to the father’s leg-lamp, it’s full of memorable scenes.
A Christmas Story (now): In 2003, the cast reunited in honor of the film’s 20th anniversary. Peter Billingsley, the actor who played Ralphie, went on to become a successful Hollywood director, making movies like Couple’s Retreat.
Stand By Me (then): Rob Reiner’s 1996 adaptation of Stephen King’s short story about a group of boys searching for a dead body (“The Body”) was an instant classic. It launched successful careers for all of the stars (from left): Wil Wheaton, River Phoenix, Jerry O’Connell, Corey Feldman, and even Kiefer Sutherland.
Stand By Me (now): In 2011, everyone except for Phoenix, who tragically passed away at the age of 23, reunited for the film’s Blue-Ray DVD launch. The most noticeable physical change among the actors was Jerry O’Connell (far left), whose current physique is a long way from the chubby child he was in the movie!
Back to the Future (then): Robert Zemeckis’s sci-fi adventure film led to a theme park ride, two sequels—and of course, plenty of people who wanted to travel through time. Everyone wanted to harness their inner Marty McFly and find a Doc to hang around with.
Back to the Future (now): During the 25th-anniversary reunion in 2010, the actors dined on a DeLorean time-machine shaped cake! Everyone was still looking good, and Micheal J. Fox had come a long way since his Parkinson’s diagnosis years before.
Wayne’s World (then): What started as a sketch on Saturday Night Live quickly became a comedy cult hit when it arrived in theaters in 1992. Mike Myers and Dana Carvey played two goofy rockers who brought a new appreciation to Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody.
Wayne’s World (now): In 2013, the cast came together at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in Los Angeles for a special screening of the film to commemorate its 21st anniversary. Looking good, everyone!
Scarface (then): Considered by many to be the greatest gangster film of all time, Oliver Stone’s movie shocked audiences with its brutal depiction of drugs and violence. Everyone can thank this film for its signature line, “Say hello to my little friend!”
Scarface (now): The lead actors came together in Los Angeles in 2011 at the Belasco Theater to honor the film’s long success. The party featured a cake that was decorated with the line, “The world is yours,” and streaks of icing that resembled lines of cocaine.