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Ben Affleck Returns to Directing in “Air”: Here’s Why He’s the Perfect Fit

For Ben Affleck, an avid sports fan, directing “AIR” was an honor. Plus, he got to work directly with the Greatest of All Time, Michael Jordan.

Ben Affleck’s latest directorial venture, “AIR,” is set to hit Philippine cinemas on April 19, and it’s a project that hits close to home for the passionate sports fan. The film showcases the undeniable impact of basketball legend Michael Jordan, not as a biopic, but as an influential presence that shaped the sports world and the rise of Nike’s Air Jordan brand.

For Ben Affleck, an avid sports fan, directing “AIR” was an honor.  Plus, he got to work directly with the Greatest of All Time, Michael Jordan. In creating “AIR,” Affleck expressed his fascination with human excellence and genius, qualities he believes Michael Jordan embodies. He was determined to involve Jordan in the project, grateful for his insights and guidance throughout the filmmaking process.

“I really believe that human excellence is a beautiful thing,” says Affleck. “The concept of genius is one of the things that’s most fascinating to me, and Michael Jordan is nothing if not a genius.”

However, “AIR” is not Michael Jordan’s story, “but there is no story without him,” explains the director. “I would not have made this movie without first reaching out to him. And I’m grateful to Michael for sharing what was important to him. His presence and influence is felt throughout the film, though we don’t see his face. Because he is such an icon—an undisputedly important and meaningful figure, someone everyone holds in such high esteem—we didn’t want to shatter the illusion, but rather let the audience invoke their own memories and experiences of what Michael Jordan means.”

One key suggestion from Jordan was the casting of Academy Award®-winning actress Viola Davis to play his mother, Deloris. “It turns out that Michael is a genius casting director as well” Affleck laughs. Talking more about his meeting with the sports legend, the director shares, “He was gracious enough to sit down with me, and he had a couple of things that were important to him. Michael wanted to honor the contributions that people made, and he was quite adamant that Viola play his mother. I guess that’s very in keeping with Michael Jordan—to set the bar as absolutely high as possible and then expect to reach it.”


The Perfect Choice

Producers and screenwriter Alex Convery agreed that Affleck was the perfect choice to direct “AIR.” “Ben Affleck is whip-smart and a fantastic director,” producer Jon Weinbach, whose previous producing credits include “The Last Dance,” states. “This story clearly connected with him on multiple levels: as a legit sports fan, as a child of the ’80s, and as an astute interpreter of modern American history in films like ‘Argo.’ He also had the gravitas to elevate this story, attract an unbelievable cast, bring in some of the best professionals in the industry, and—perhaps most importantly—to approach Michael Jordan and get his thoughts on it. None of that was possible without Ben at the helm, and it was wildly exciting to see him make it all happen.” His love for sports, keen understanding of modern American history, and ability to attract a stellar cast made him the ideal candidate. His involvement was crucial in securing Michael Jordan’s input and bringing the story to life.

About “AIR”

“AIR” also stars Ben Affleck and boasts an impressive cast, including Matt Damon, Jason Bateman, Chris Messina, Marlon Wayans, Chris Tucker, and Viola Davis. “AIR” reveals the unbelievable game-changing partnership between a then-rookie Michael Jordan and Nike’s fledgling basketball division, which revolutionized the world of sports and contemporary culture with the Air Jordan brand.

Affleck directed from a screenplay by Alex Convery. “AIR” is produced by Peter Guber, Jason Michael Berman, David Ellison, Jeff Robinov, Madison Ainley, Damon and Affleck.

In Philippine cinemas April 19, “AIR” is distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Discovery company. Join the conversation online and use the hashtag #AIRMovie

Photo & Video Credit: “Warner Bros. Pictures”

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