Ben Affleck Shares The One Request Michael Jordan Had About His Air Movie With Matt Damon

When you think of basketball superstar Michael Jordan, you naturally think of the Nike Air Jordan sneakers he’s known for wearing. And if it wasn’t for a Nike Super Bowl commercial starring M.J., we wouldn’t have gotten his cult classic movie Space Jam. We’re about to get a movie all about Michael Jordan’s deal with Nike starring Matt Damon, with Ben Affleck directing and co-starring in it. Although the NBA champ did have a request for Affleck on what needed to be included in Air.

Ben Affleck’s new movie Air is about how Nike’s deal to sign NBA athlete Michael Jordan back in the ‘80s. This decision rescued this sports apparel corporation and the sneaker world in general. Affleck collaborated with his best friend Matt Damon, who plays Sonny Vacarro aka the man responsible for encouraging Michael Jordan toward his first sneaker deal. But the Fargo director and actor was aware that there could be no movie about Michael Jordan’s deal without the former Chicago Bulls star himself. In an interview with USA Today, the Oscar winner revealed the one request Jordan had for Air: Viola Davis had to play his mother. 

Michael Jordan couldn’t have picked a better actress to take on this important role. She was a force of nature in the historical action drama The Woman King, doing nearly every stunt in the movie. Not to mention all of the other critically-acclaimed dramas she’s done like The Help, Fences, and Doubt. So casting one of The New York Times’ greatest actors of the 21st century to play one's mom is a great way to guarantee it'll have a recipe for success. And here’s a fun fact: you can meet Davis’ real-life husband in Air, Julius Tennon, who will be playing Michael Jordan’s father. 

The Armageddon actor’s intention in making Air was to show that Michael Jordan was more than just an athlete. He had a huge influence on the sports world, sports marketing, and made an impact on the treatment of athletes at large. But try not to be disappointed in not seeing a cameo appearance from the celebrated athlete, or even seeing him being portrayed by another actor. Affleck reportedly felt that audiences would never be able to buy anyone playing Michael Jordan on-screen except for the real man himself. 

On the other hand, it doesn’t mean Jordan didn’t have a role in the film’s involvement. Affleck told USA Today that he had a few interactions with him about what else needed to be included in the movie that was meaningful to him.

He was like, ‘Hey, here’s a few things, that this is what I know and this is what’s meaningful to me.’ He didn’t seek to have any input about anything around at all that happened that he didn’t have first person information about. I thought he had an extraordinary integrity in that way. He was probably the only person I talked to who didn’t want to editorialize about everybody else.

It’s always a good sign when a director listens to the input of a film's subject. The most important thing about educating an audience about an important moment in history is to be as truthful as possible as well as positive representation. Another thing to know about Air other than some ‘80s fashion choices accompanied by Ben Affleck’s curly hairpiece is that Affleck will reunite with his best friend and writing collaborator Matt Damon on their third writing piece together. Previously, their most recent was The Last Duel. This was originally a spec script written by Alex Convery, but sat on the Black List of unproduced screenplays. Luckily, Affleck and Damon were willing to put two heads together to bring this untouched screenplay to life.

Now we all know who to thank for Viola Davis’ role in Air, which I have no doubt will be another memorable role for her. Be sure to add Ben Affleck’s 2023 movie release to your watchlist for its wide theatrical release on April 5th.

Carly Levy
Entertainment Writer

Just your average South Floridian cinephile who believes the pen is mightier than the sword.