At SXSW this past weekend, Ben Affleck debuted the eagerly awaited film Air, which starred Matt Damon, Damian Young, and others.
Michael Jordan made a request to Ben Affleck before he directed the movie, which Affleck revealed when he introduced the movie at SXSW. Variety quotes Affleck as saying, “I had an opportunity to meet down with Michael Jordan, because I just wasn’t going to create this movie without asking him, ‘What matters to you?'” Affleck stated that he did get the titular basketball player’s okay before shooting this movie. His possession of a few important things was both interesting and telling.
According to Affleck, Jordan did have a few key pieces of the story that he said would be a must to include in the film, “One of them was that Howard White needed to be in the movie.” Upon hearing about the importance of White, Affleck realized he had the opportunity to cast Chris Tucker, someone he has wanted to work with for a long time. When it came down to the script, Affleck once again spoke with Jordan about the major influences in his life. He said, “Michael Jordan, for those of you who don’t know, is one of the most intimidating, impressive men you’ll ever see in your life. He told me about is his father. And then he talked about his mother. It was the first time I saw this look cross his face…It was a look of reverence, of awe, of love, and gratitude, and innocence. He said, ‘None of this would have ever happened without my mother.’ I said, ‘Who would you like to play your mom?’ He said, ‘Well, it has to be Viola Davis.’”
When it came down to casting Davis, Affleck was not definitely not opposed, “That’s like saying, ‘Can I play basketball on your court?’ ‘Yeah, if you get Michael Jordan.’” He praises the actress, “Viola Davis is the best actor I’ve ever seen. This is a hard business. It’s hard to know if you’re successful. It’s hard to know if you’ve accomplished something. But honest to God, I always felt that if I was a director one day, and I had Viola Davis in a movie, that would really be something. That would mean the world to me. And it does.” Affleck later brought Davis on stage before premiering Air.