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Viola Davis on playing Michael Jordan’s mom in Air — The Hollywood Reporter

When Ben Affleck met Michael Jordan airThe director’s new movie that highlights a key moment in the story of a basketball icon, Jordan had one request. “Viola Davis. This is my mom,” the director recalls Hollywood Reportr to what Jordan said.

air, the story of how Michael Jordan’s family and a group of Nike executives revolutionized the business with one historic sneaker deal, premiered Saturday at the South by Southwest Film Festival, ahead of its wide Amazon release on April 5. In addition to Davis as Jordan’s mother, Deloris Jordan, Michael, the film also stars Matt Damon, Chris Tucker, and Jason Bateman as Nike executives, and Affleck as Nike co-founder and former CEO Phil Knight and Davis’ real-life husband, Julius Tennon, as Jordan’s father.

to Davis, who shot the film after completing her assignment King’s woman Shoot, Delores’ character was the draw.

“Mothers are the most important figures in anyone’s life, so I was very flattered and deeply moved to be asked to play Michael’s mother,” Davis said. THR. “I know Michael Jordan but little did I know that Delores brokered this deal to get a huge stake in the shoe and in turn protect her son’s legacy. I wanted to know more about this woman who had the strength and courage to fight for her son’s worth. For Delores to have such insight And the progressive vision, her standing in the negotiating room—which I know can be the hardest part of the job—makes her an amazing woman. That kept me focused on this project.”

In an early version of the script, before Affleck met Jordan, Delores’ character was slim, he said. But impressed by Jordan’s contribution — and buoyed by the advice of Affleck’s wife, Jennifer Lopez, the director began to see Delores as key to the story, and expanded the role.

One of Davis’ pivotal scenes is a phone call between Delores and Damon’s character, Sonny Vaccaro, a Nike executive who is trying to sign her son to a contract. The scene consists of seven pages in the script, and was filmed by Affleck with four cameras on each actor.

“I want to play the scene so they can get up, they can do whatever they want, they can move,” Affleck said. “We did a couple of takes and I said, ‘This is the best thing I’ve ever seen. ‘” i’m done. If you want to come back again, I’ll shoot all day. [Davis] I went, watched the playback. When I came out, it was the first time I saw her smile and I just felt like, “Oh my God.” It was the sweetest and most rewarding moment.”