Actor Macaulay Culkin was initially considered for Eminem ‘stan’ video

The untold story behind Eminem’s iconic music video
37th Annual Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony - Inside
37th Annual Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony - Inside / Kevin Mazur/GettyImages

Eminem’s “Stan” music video has left an indelible mark on pop culture, but did you know that the role of Stan almost went to someone else entirely? According to actor Devon Sawa, Macaulay Culkin was Eminem’s initial pick to play the obsessive fan in the groundbreaking video.

The casting dilemma

In the late '90s, Eminem was riding high on the success of his album “The Slim Shady LP.” The haunting track “Stan,” featuring British singer Dido, became a sensation. Dre, was equally powerful, depicting the unraveling of an obsessed fan who writes letters to Eminem but receives no response.

Devon Sawa, known for his role in the horror film “Final Destination,” revealed in an interview with Entertainment Tonight that Macaulay Culkin was the first choice for the role.

"They went out to Macaulay Culkin first, Sawa explained. I think that they wanted him, and he wasn’t available, or didn’t want to do it or whatever."

The unexpected turn

Enter Dr. Dre, who had recently seen Sawa’s performance in “Final Destination” and was impressed. Dre suggested Sawa for the part, and the casting office made the connection through a mutual acquaintance. Sawa recalled, “They called me that way … and it ended up working out pretty good.”

The making of “stan”

In the eight-minute video, Sawa portrays Stan, the fan who becomes increasingly unhinged as Eminem fails to respond to his letters. The intense scenes show Stan’s descent into madness, culminating in a dramatic car crash with his pregnant girlfriend tied up in the trunk. Sawa’s commitment to the role paid off, and he considers it one of his proudest achievements.

"I’ll never forget, Sawa shared, they told me on the day that I was going to lip-synch it. I remember, after the first take I did, Dre running in and being like, ‘It was good, but can you try it with some rhythm this time?’ And I was like, ‘Oh my god.’ And that was kind of how the day went."

How did the 'Stan' video impact Eminem's career?

Eminem's "Stan" music video profoundly shaped his career, showcasing his artistic depth and cultural impact. Through its narrative complexity, it elevated Eminem as a storyteller, addressing themes of fame's pitfalls and mental health struggles with raw honesty. Released in 2000, it coincided with the internet age, popularizing the term "stan" and sparking discussions on fan obsession and celebrity culture.

"Stan" received critical acclaim for its storytelling and cinematography, contributing to Eminem's commercial success with "The Marshall Mathers LP." Its lasting legacy extends beyond chart-topping success, inspiring artists to create more cinematic music videos and influencing discussions on popular culture and fandom.

“Stan” remains a defining moment in Eminem’s career, and the video’s impact extends beyond music. The term “stan” itself has become synonymous with devoted fans across various fandoms. While Macaulay Culkin’s absence from the video is now a footnote in history, Devon Sawa’s portrayal of Stan continues to resonate with audiences worldwide.