Director Ben Affleck Says Michael Jordan Wanted Viola Davis to Play His Mom in New ‘Air’ Movie

When it came time to find actors to play NBA legend Michael Jordan’s parents in the new movie Air, the retired basketball player had only one person in mind to portray his mother: Oscar-winning actress Viola Davis.

Before the movie premiered at the SXSW festival on Saturday, March 18, 2023, director Ben Affleck recalled the conversation he had with the former Chicago Bulls player about who should play the role. Jordan, 60, explained that his mother had a big influence on his career, and he wanted to accurately depict her story.

Michael Jordan and Mom Deloris CAT
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“Michael Jordan, for those of you who don’t know, is the most intimidating and impressive person you will ever see in real life,” Affleck said, according to Insider. “[After speaking about his dad], he talked about his mom. A look came over his was a look of reverence and awe and love and gratitude and innocence. He said, ‘None of this would have ever happened without my mother doing everything.’”

Jordan told Affleck, 50, to contact Davis to see if she’s interested in playing his mom, Deloris, in the movie. The director revealed, “He said, ‘Well, it has to be Viola Davis.’ I said, ‘That’s like saying can I play basketball on your court, and you say, yeah if you get Michael Jordan.’ Viola Davis is the best actor I have ever seen.”

Alongside Davis and Affleck, the movie Air features a talented ensemble cast that includes names like Chris Tucker, Matt Damon, Jason Bateman and Marlon Wayans.

Viola Davis The First Lady Premiere CAT
Emma McIntyre/WireImage

Directed by Affleck and written by Alex Convery, Air tells the origin story of the infamous Air Jordan sneaker. It shows how employees at Nike struck a deal with Jordan (who was a rookie at the time) to become the face of the shoe line.

After watching the trailer, we can already tell Viola is going to kill this role. Air premieres in theaters everywhere on April 5.

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Assistant Editor, News And Entertainment

Karelle McKay is the Assistant Editor of News and Entertainment at PureWow. Before she started writing about all things pop culture, she was a literal couch potato who loved...