Ben Affleck Reveals Why He Didn't Show Michael Jordan's Face in New Movie "Air"
Maverick director Ben Affleck's recent new movie Air showcases the success story of the giant footwear company Nike and traces how the brand first signed NBA legend Michael Jordan. The much-anticipated movie has one odd detail: Affleck chose not to show Jordan's face onscreen. In a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Affleck stuck with his decision and said, "Jordan is too big. He exists above and around the story, but if you ever concretize him, if you ever say, 'Yes, that’s Michael Jordan,' we know it’s not, really. It’s fake. I thought if the audience brought everything they thought and remembered about him and what he meant to them to the movie and projected it onto the movie, it worked better."
In the 1-hour-and-52-minute sports drama, Affleck cast a body double and shot him from behind or in profile. According to Guardian Jordan himself is not shown in the film, apart from curated archive clips, including that life-changing shot in 1982 in which Matt Damon, who is playing Vaccaro, is seen studying on VHS video tape repeatedly. “That is such a great scene because you can watch it happen now,” Sonny Vaccaro, now 83, recalled over a phone call from Palm Springs, California. “It was 40 years ago and there are kids who weren’t born yet.”
“He’s a hero to me. And I know how important and meaningful a figure he is, in particular to the African American community,” Affleck further commented in his interview. “If you’re going to f*** around with talking about Michael Jordan, do it respectfully. Nobody’s asking you to do a hagiography, but get it f***ing right.” He also mentioned that the iconic NBA sports personality is too “powerful” a figure, claiming he’s “never known anybody with that kind of charisma and power" that when he "walks into a room and it just reverberates.”
Affleck further added in the interview that he met with Jordan to ask for advice on who should play his mother Deloris Jordan in Air, and revealed that it was Jordan's idea to cast Viola Davis. "He was dead serious," Affleck said, as he recalled Jordan's request for EGOT winner to be a part of the movie. "'Viola Davis, that's my mom.' And that was it. The discussion was over. However it happened, it wasn't his problem, but it was going to f---ing happen. And I was like, 'Okay, Mike. "
Aside from Affleck, who plays Nike Inc. co-founder Philip Knight in the movie, Matt Damon, and Viola Davis, the movie also stars Jason Bateman, Chris Messina, Marlon Wayans, Chris Tucker, and Gustaf Skarsgård. Reuters reports that Affleck is hopeful for basketball legend Michael Jordan’s seal of approval after directing the biographical sports film. Despite the movie getting glowing reviews from critics and audiences alike since its world premiere at the South by Southwest Film Festival in March, the retired Chicago Bull’s verdict on the movie is not yet out. The movie premieres on Wednesday in theaters and will later stream on Amazon Prime Video.