Air will not directly show Michael Jordan onscreen, reveals star Ben Affleck. The film, which is set to debut theatrically on April 5, will follow Matt Damon as Sonny Vaccaro, a Nike salesman who is pursuing the basketball legend for a partnership that will eventually result in the iconic Air Jordans. Affleck will be starring opposite Damon as Nike co-founder Phil Knight.
This week, The Hollywood Reporter sat down for a profile on Affleck ahead of the release of Air. While discussing the film, he revealed that nobody will be portraying Jordan onscreen. He said that the sports icon “exists above and around the story” rather than being a character directly shown onscreen. Read his full quote below:
Jordan is too big. 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.
Why It’s Best Not to Show Michael Jordan in Air
Considering the fact that the film is in large part about Jordan, it makes sense for him to appear in Air in some capacity. The star could even have played himself, as he has experience acting in films like the 1996 classic Space Jam. However, there are quite a few very solid reasons for the man himself to remain an offscreen presence.
First and foremost is the fact that his presence in the story of Air is as a seemingly unreachable goal, a sort of Everest that Damon’s character must summit. Keeping Jordan offscreen will help highlight just how fantastical his idea seems as he tries to bring it to fruition. Another impediment to showing him onscreen would be his status as a legendary figure in the world of sports and pop culture in general.
Having another actor come in to play a younger version of Jordan in Air would be putting a lot of expectations on their shoulders that they likely couldn’t meet. The only other option would be to have Jordan play himself using de-aging technology, which was probably an option far outside of the film’s budget. It makes sense for the filmmakers to leave the Jordan depiction to documentaries like The Last Dance rather than attempting it themselves.
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