Ben Affleck explains decision not to show Michael Jordan’s face in Air film

Ben Affleck has explained the reasoning behind not depicting Michael Jordan in Air, a film about the legendary NBA star’s collaboration with Nike.

Directed by and starring the Gone Girl star, Air is a forthcoming sports drama, based on the real-life story of marketing executive Sonny Vaccaro (Matt Damon) working with Nike to pursue a young Jordan to create his own line of sneakers.

Jordan’s collaboration with Nike was the major catalyst in creating a long link between the worlds of sports, fashion and pop culture, with the immense popularity of his Air Jordans.

However, the basketball star is nowhere to be seen in the film.

In a new interview, Affleck explains the choice behind not depicting the star on screen, despite his name being a major part of the story.

“He’s a hero to me. And I know how important and meaningful a figure he is, in particular in the African American community,” he told The Hollywood Reporter.

“If you’re going to f*** around with talking about Michael Jordan, do it respectfully. Nobody’s asking you to do a hagiography, but get it f***ing right.”

The actor went on to express how enchanting and “powerful” a figure he finds Jordan, claiming he’s “never known anybody with that kind of charisma and power who walks into a room and it just reverberates”.

After Affleck requested a meeting with Jordan to discuss the film, the pair ended up going golfing together and mapping out ideas for how to tell the story, including casting Viola Davis to play Jordan’s mother, Deloris.

However, he chose to never show Jordan on screen simply because the sportsman’s frame is too singular to recreate convincingly.

“Jordan is too big,” Affleck said simply. “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.”

Elsewhere in the interview, he shared his regrets about taking “advice” that stopped him working with his Good Will Hunting collaborator, and longtime best friend, Matt Damon more often.