Michael Jordan Specifically Requested Viola Davis Be Cast As His Mom in ‘Air’
The only problems were that Davis is one of the most sought-after actors in Hollywood and the script originally only had one line for the character.
When Ben Affleck asked Michael Jordan who he wanted to play his mom in "Air," Jordan knew immediately: Viola Davis. The only problems were that Davis is one of the most sought-after actors in Hollywood and the script originally only had one line for the character.
Directed by Affleck, "Air" tells the story of the endorsement deal between Nike and Jordan, a rookie at the time, that led to the creation of the Air Jordan shoe line.
While speaking to the audience at the film’s premiere at SXSW, Affleck said he asked Jordan if he had any wishes for the film. Among them was the portrayal of his mother, according to Variety.
"It was the first time I saw this look cross his face," Affleck said. "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.’"
Affleck told the Hollywood Reporter that at the time Jordan made the request, the role was very small.
"Oh my God, he wants me to offer this to Viola Davis," he told the publication. "How am I going to offer Viola Davis a movie with one line? That’s not going to happen."
Affleck said that he begged Davis to play the role. Along with Matt Damon and his wife Jennifer Lopez, they expanded the role and were able to get Davis to sign on.
"This is a hard business," he said at SXSW. "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."
The film stars Davis, Affleck, Damon, Jason Bateman, Chris Messina, and Damian Delano Young, who plays Jordan. It premieres in theaters on April 5.