Ben Affleck Explains Why Michael Jordan's Face Is Not Shown in 'Air'

Air is set to be released in theatres next month and will tell the story of how Nike signed Michael Jordan in the 1980s. The film stars Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, and while Jordan will be talked about throughout the movie, viewers will not see his face. Affleck, who is also the director, spoke to The Hollywood Reporter about Air and explained why Jordan's face is never shown. 

"Jordan is too big," Affleck said. "He exists above and around the story, but if you ever concretize him, if you ever say, 'Yes, that's Michael Jordan,' we know it's not, really. It's fake. I thought if the audience brought everything they thought and remembered about him and what he meant to them to the movie and projected it onto the movie, it worked better." 

Affleck also talked about how he "periodically plays cards sometimes" with Jordan and they have mutual friends. He went on to say how "important and meaningful a figure he is, in particular in the African American community." Affleck also mentioned Jordan invited him to play golf and waited for him to finish playing before telling him his pitch for the movie. 

"He was very clear," Affleck explained. "He was the one who told me about [Nike executive] Howard White, who wasn't in the original script, who's played by Chris Tucker. And I said, 'Any anecdotes about your dad?' And without going into any more detail, he actually talked about his mom, who wasn't really in the script. That's when I understood what the movie was. Talking to him about his mom was incredibly moving, and I realized, 'Oh, this isn't about Nike.'"

Affleck also talked about how Jordan wanted Viola Davis to play his mother in Air. And he asked Davis to play the role by "begging." Affleck added, "She's not comfortable with sycophancy or obsequiousness. You can tell it chafes her. I just treated her with respect, which is to say, 'When you're ready, let me know. We'll be here.' I want what she does in the movie to be a surprise — because as I started writing and working with Matt, and Jen [Lopez] gave me some great lines too — it just started getting better." Air also stars Jason Bateman Chris Messina, Matthew Maher, Marlon Wayans, Jay Mohr and Julius Tennon. The film will be released on April 5.