Ben Affleck Shares His Exchange With Michael Jordan Upon the Making of ”Air”

For Ben Affleck, an avid sports fan, directing “AIR” was an honor. The film, which opens in cinemas on April 19, features a topic that’s very dear to him, boasts an excellent cast, and has a passionate and creative team behind the scenes. Plus, he got to work directly with the Greatest of All Time, Michael Jordan.

“I really believe that human excellence is a beautiful thing,” says Affleck. “The concept of genius is one of the things that’s most fascinating to me, and Michael Jordan is nothing if not a genius.”

Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

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However, “AIR” is not Michael Jordan’s story, “but there is no story without him,” explains the director. “I would not have made this movie without first reaching out to him. And I’m grateful to Michael for sharing what was important to him. His presence and influence are felt throughout the film, though we don’t see his face. Because he is such an icon—an undisputedly important and meaningful figure, someone everyone holds in such high esteem—we didn’t want to shatter the illusion, but rather let the audience invoke their own memories and experiences of what Michael Jordan means.”

One of Michael Jordan’s biggest notes? That Academy Award®-winning actress Viola Davis would play his mother, Deloris.

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Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

“It turns out that Michael is a genius casting director as well,” Affleck laughs. Talking more about his meeting with the sports legend, the director shares, “He was gracious enough to sit down with me, and he had a couple of things that were important to him. Michael wanted to honor the contributions that people made, and he was quite adamant that Viola play his mother. I guess that’s very in keeping with Michael Jordan—to set the bar as absolutely high as possible and then expect to reach it.”

When it came time to choose a director for “AIR,” the producers and screenwriter Alex Convery were in sync about the perfect choice to be at the helm. “Ben Affleck is whip-smart and a fantastic director,” producer Jon Weinbach, whose previous producing credits include “The Last Dance,” states. “This story clearly connected with him on multiple levels: as a legit sports fan, as a child of the ’80s, and as an astute interpreter of modern American history in films like ‘Argo.’ He also had the gravitas to elevate this story, attract an unbelievable cast, bring in some of the best professionals in the industry, and—perhaps most importantly—approach Michael Jordan and get his thoughts on it. None of that was possible without Ben at the helm, and it was wildly exciting to see him make it all happen.”

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The ticketing site for “AIR” is already live at Don’t forget to calendar your “AIR” movie date!

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