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In a new BBC Radio 5 Live podcast, Bugzy Malone’s Grandest Game, former video game developer and friend of the early DMA Design team, Kirk Ewing, told the story of how he approached Rockstar president Sam Houser with a Grand Theft Auto movie pitch starring Eminem.

It’s a lot to take in. Kirk Ewing was a games developer in Dundee when the first Grand Theft Auto game was taking shape, and he was friends with many members of the team there, which inevitably granted him access to studio president Sam Houser. This aided him greatly when he switched careers to become an agent.

In the new podcast, Kirk states: “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. And I think at that point, you know, it was still in Sam’s mind that it might be something that he wanted to do.

“Actually, should I tell this story? I remember taking a call about 4am 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’.

“And at that point, they withdrew from any conversation about making a film, when they realised that the media franchise that they had, what they had, was bigger than any movie that was going on at the time.”

Red Dead Redemption 2 Arthur Morgan screenshot.

The timelines add up. 8 Mile is Eminem’s film debut, and filming for the movie started in September 2001 – just a month before the launch of the seminal open-world game, Grand Theft Auto 3. It’s easy to imagine that Eminem was being offered a variety of movie roles once filming had wrapped. Director Tony Scott’s availability also lines up with when his work on the movie Spy Game would’ve wrapped.

Despite many rumors over the years, we’ve still never seen evidence of a Grand Theft Auto live-action movie, and since this early offer the series has only become more popular, earning almost $8 billion since the launch of GTA V.

Bugzy Malone’s Grandest Game from BBC Radio 5 Live is available from Tuesday 15 November. You can now enjoy the entire podcast as a seven-part boxset.