Ben Affleck says he never would have made “Air” without Michael Jordan’s blessing, but that blessing came with one big request. Her name? Viola Davis.
The film, directed by Affleck, stars Matt Damon as Sonny Vaccaro, a Nike employee who convinces Jordan to sign a contract that allows him to create the Air Jordan shoe line.
“I had the chance to sit down with Michael Jordan because I asked him, ‘What’s important to you?'” said Affleck, who presented Air at the South by Southwest world premiere. I would not make this film without asking the question. It is interesting that he had several important points.”
“One of them Howard White was supposed to be in the movie,” Affleck said, referring to the Jordan Brand vice president. Hearing about White, Affleck realized that he had the opportunity to play the role of Chris Tucker, which he had wanted to work with for a long time.
“I got the script and then I had a chance to talk to Michael again. For those who don’t know, Michael Jordan is one of the most intimidating, impressive men you’ll ever meet,” Affleck said. “He told me about his father. Then he talked about his mother. It was the first time I saw this look on his face. It was a look of respect, reverence, love, gratitude and innocence. “None of this would have happened without my mother,” she said. I said: ‘Who would you like to play your mother?’ He said, “Well, it must be Viola Davis.”
“It’s like, ‘Can I play basketball on your court?’ it’s like saying “Yeah, if you get Michael Jordan.” “Viola Davis is the best actor I’ve ever seen,” Affleck continued. “This is a difficult task. It’s hard to know if you’re successful. It’s hard to know if you’ve achieved anything. But to be honest to God, I’ve always felt that if I was a director one day and Viola Davis was in a movie, that would really be something. It would mean the world to me. And it does.”