As some know, hip-hop icons Eminem and the late DMX almost starred alongside each other in a sequel to Brandon Lee’s The Crow. Many obstacles prevented the gritty sequel from being made, including the feelings of the film’s own lead in DMX.
Why DMX was cast in ‘The Crow: Lazarus’
The original Crow was a 1994 dark supernatural thriller starring Bruce Lee’s son the late Brandon Lee. In the cult classic, Lee played a musician who was brutally murdered along with his fiancee by a ruthless street gang. He’s later brought back to life by supernatural forces for a chance at revenge against this gang of criminals.
The film was enough of a hit to spawn sequels that tried capitalizing on its success. After the first three Crow films, however, others believed it might have been wise to reinvent the franchise before its subject matter became stale. To do this, the studio behind the films decided to make a fourth Crow movie based on the hip-hop industry. James Gibson, who was tapped to write the sequel they called Lazarus, already had DMX in mind to lead the movie. As an avid hip-hop fan himself, Gibson believed DMX was exactly who he needed as his next Crow.
“He’s starting to act, he’s got this amazing intensity, and he’s having songs where he’s talking to God and talking about being ready to die. There’s a spiritual side to his stuff,” Gibson once told Bloody Disgusting. “What sold it was, I brought in a copy of his second album, which had just come out and was like platinum. Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood, where he’s standing naked in a bathtub covered in blood. I’m like, ‘This is the Crow, right? Look, this is your Crow.’”
DMX backed out of ‘The Crow’ sequel because Eminem would be involved
After DMX was on board, Eminem was considered to play opposite the “Party Up” singer. According to Gibson, DMX being a part of Lazarus played a significant part in Eminem deciding to do the film. So Gibson wanted to cast Eminem as DMX’s friend-turned nemesis Stone, who’d be another Crow.
“[Eminem] said if DMX was going to be in the movie, he wanted to be in the movie. So we decided, ‘Okay, yeah. Let’s have him play Stone,’” Gibson claimed.
However, in an interview with MTV News, DMX shared mixed feelings about Eminem being cast in the movie. At the time, DMX was focused on building a respectable acting career, especially since it paid him more than the music industry.
“I can sell 5 million albums and only get a half a million dollars. One movie, I’m up to like $8 million. It’s less headaches, and they actually treat you with respect in the film industry,” DMX said.
Since Lazarus was being developed before 8 Mile, Eminem hadn’t yet shown himself to be a capable actor. This was among a couple of reasons why DMX was reluctant to star alongside Eminem. The rapper didn’t want to risk his growing filmography being tarnished.
“You know what it was? They wanted to do it where there’s two Crows,” DMX explained. “They wanted Eminen to be the other Crow. I’m like, ‘C’mon, man. You’re not breaking this guy off my back. [Let Em] get his own movie first.’ It’s bad enough I’m a rap artist getting into acting — you gonna make it worse? It was his first joint. Don’t do me like that. Then, [what if we find out] he can’t act and I’m all f****d up on some B-movie s***?”
Eminem and DMX’s ‘Lazarus’ director said the movie would’ve been terrible
With Gibson set to write the sequel, Joseph Kahn was approached to direct the movie. Kahn has made a career out of directing music videos for many superstars in the music industry. He was already used to working with Eminem and DMX before, having filmed a couple of their music videos as well.
Kahn once revealed that he persuaded Eminem to sign onto The Crow sequel he was picked to direct. But in hindsight, he questioned if the movie was a good idea at all.
“I’d actually convinced Eminem to be in it — I was going to do a DMX vs. Eminem Crow movie where DMX was going to be the black Crow and Eminem was going to be the white Crow,” he confirmed in a 2017 interview with the LA Times. “It would have been a terrible movie because I would have made it funny, and Crow movies aren’t supposed to be funny.”