Ben Affleck and Matt Damon’s upcoming movie about the sports marketing executive who relentlessly pursued basketball legend Michael Jordan in the mid-’80s has added a troupe of all-star actors to its line-up.
Emmy-winner Jason Bateman, Academy Award-winner Viola Davis, Chris Tucker and Marlon Wayans have signed on to star opposite Affleck and Damon in Prime Video’s untitled film, along with Matthew Maher, Chris Messina, Tom Papa and Julius Tennon.
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Damon plays maverick sneaker salesman and former Nike executive Sonny Vaccaro, and Affleck plays Nike co-founder Phil Knight in the film, from Amazon Studios, Skydance Sports and Mandalay Pictures. The movie tells the story of Nike’s long-shot effort to sign Jordan to the shoe company, an endorsement that seemed impossible at the time, but would become the most significant relationship between an athletic brand and an athlete. The strategic partnership helped launch the global, multibillion-dollar contemporary sneaker industry.
In the film, Bateman will star as Rob Strasser, the longtime Nike executive (and Vaccaro’s boss), who was instrumental in the company’s efforts to sign, and later promote, Jordan as he oversaw the company’s marketing and messaging. Davis will play Michael Jordan’s mother Deloris, who had enormous influence on the basketball legend’s decision to sign the deal. Tucker has signed on to play Howard White, then a junior executive in Nike’s fledgling basketball department who served as the day-to-day connection with its roster of NBA players following his time as a college basketball player for the University of Maryland. Wayans joins the cast as George Raveling, the trailblazing college basketball coach (the first Black coach in both the ACC and the PAC 10), who met and befriended Jordan while serving as an assistant coach on the 1984 gold medal-winning U.S. Men’s Olympic basketball team. Raveling was a dear friend of Vaccaro’s, and with Sonny’s prodding, first introduced the idea of signing with Nike to Jordan.
Maher will play Peter Moore, the legendary designer for Nike (and later Adidas) who was behind designs for the first Air Jordan sneakers, in addition to the iconic “Wings” and “Jumpman” logos for the Air Jordan brand. Messina is David Falk, Jordan’s original agent, who is oft credited with coming up with the name “Air Jordan,” Papa will play Stu Inman, while Tennon embodies Jordan’s father James.
Production on the project, which Affleck is directing, recently began in Los Angeles. This marks the first time Affleck will direct a feature starring Damon, and the two stars also collaborated on the script, which was penned by Alex Convery and named to the 2021 Black List. The new project is Affleck and Damon’s third screenplay together, following 2021’s “The Last Duel” and the Oscar-winning “Good Will Hunting.”
Affleck and Damon are also producing the film alongside Peter Guber, Jason Michael Berman, Jeff Robinov, Madison Ainley, and David Ellison. Executive producers include Jon Weinbach, Jesse Sisgold, Dana Goldberg, and Don Granger, Kevin Halloran, Michael Joe, John Graham, Drew Vinton, Jordan Moldo and Peter E. Strauss.
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