Ben Affleck reveals the request Michael Jordan made about new Air movie as NBA legend absent from film
| Last updated
Ben Affleck has revealed the one request NBA legend Michael Jordan had for him when he decided to make a film about the superstar's relationship with Nike.
Michael Jordan is arguably the most recognisable name in sporting history, so it's somewhat surprising that he won't feature at all in a film about him.
Air: Courting a Legend tells the story of the partnership between Jordan and sportswear giants Nike, which propelled both parties from humble beginnings into the stratosphere.
Nike was just a small-scale company in the '80s but co-founder Phil Knight - played by Ben Affleck - saw the potential in basketball and Jordan in particular.
Jordan, at the time a rookie with the University of North Carolina, was persuaded by his mother to ditch Adidas for Nike and the rest, as they say, is history.
As Jordan enjoyed a glittering career with the Chicago Bulls, sales of Nike's iconic Jordan shoe skyrocketed and both player and brand became household names.
Jordan isn't actually featured in the movie but his mother is. The one request the star had was that actress Viola Davis by cast to play his mother,and Affleck, director and star of the film, obliged.
Speaking to NBA (via talkSPORT), Affleck said: “I was like, ‘Mike, you just can’t get Viola Davis.’
"He was like ‘nope’. So I had to get her. Thank goodness she said yes. I was very happy I was able to do that.
"He didn’t have a whole laundry list. He left it at that. It was important that I honor that."
It's not surprising that Jordan wanted Davis to play his mum - she is one of only a few actors to have been awarded an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar, and a Tony (EGOT).
Affleck went on to explain why the movie won't actually feature Jordan.
"I thought the minute I turn the camera on somebody and ask the audience to believe that person was Michael Jordan, the whole movie falls part," he said.
"When somebody is that powerful, where just their silhouette is a globally recognized phenomenon, you lose people.
"If it’s [the film] about anything, it’s about what Michael Jordan meant to the sporting world, the world at large, and who he was and how it transformed sports and sports marketing and how athletes were compensated and treated, how he was supported in that process."
Although he doesn't feature, Affleck made sure to consult Jordan before embarking on the project.
"I wouldn’t have touched this movie if I did not think, without approaching and seeking out Michael Jordan,” Affleck said.
“I’m not interested in doing a movie that Michael feels is inappropriate or doesn’t reflect how he feels about the story.
“Michael was not paid, his rights aren’t being authorized. That would be a different movie, the Michael Jordan story, and that’s not what he wanted to do either.
"I wanted to make sure and tell him that what is meaningful to you is not overlooked."