Oscars 2020: Why Eminem Wanted to Keep His Performance Secret

There was a 17-year gap between Eminem's epic performance during Sunday's Academy Awards and the year his song "Lose Yourself" took home an Oscar for its part in 8 Mile in 2003. The amount of time between that and the fact that it wasn't a traditional 10th or 20th anniversary made the big surprise even more of a shocker when it happened.

It turns out that that is exactly why the rapper, whose full name is Marshall Mathers, wanted it to be that way. Robert Mills, Senior Vice President of Alternative Series, Specials and Late-Night Programming at ABC, spoke with Entertainment Tonight about the planning behind it.

"It had to be the right time, it had to be in the right place in the show," Mills continued. "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 went on to explain that Mathers may have backed out had any word of his performance leaked prior to the show.

"The element of surprise was really paramount to him that I think had it been leaked, he would have backed out," Mills shared. "It was great that it was able to be kept such a huge, jaw-dropping surprise."

In order to keep its secrecy, many measures were taken, including a fake-out during his one and only rehearsal in which the band played a different song by The Bee Gees to cover up the fact that Eminem was playing his iconic track.

Mills said that "maybe six people knew" about the big reveal up until 48 hours prior to the event.

"I think for him, it was just so unexpected and he wanted to keep it that way, and it's so hard now with the rise of social media and Twitter and everything to keep anything a secret," Mills added.

During his performance of "Lose Yourself" the crowd was in awe. Many shots of the audience revealed wide open jaws, smiles and many singing along to the chorus. Social media was also abuzz during and after the song.

Eminem also sent out a tweet shortly after thanking the Academy for getting this together, even after all the years in between.


"Look, if you had another shot, another opportunity... Thanks for having me @TheAcademy. Sorry it took me 18 years to get here," he posted with a video of the 2003 announcement attached.