“Michael Jordan’s eyes soften when he talks about his mother” | Entertainment | The USA Print

A still from the film, with Matt Damon and Viola Davis

In air , the film directed by his friend Ben Affleck and which opens this week in theaters to later reach all homes with the Amazon Prime platform, Matt Damon plays Sonny Vacaro, the Nike employee who in 1984 became obsessed with hiring an up-and-coming basketball player named Michael Jordan to be the face of a new athletic shoe. And although it is his story that drives the film, at the global press conference that Amazon organized from Austin, Texas to promote its release, Matt Damon spoke first and foremost as producer.

It is that whoever won the Oscar for Best Screenplay together with Affleck in 1997, when he was still unknown, has launched a new production company with him with which he aspires to revolutionize Hollywood, since all those who participate in his films are partners in earnings. The cast of air it also includes Affleck, Viola Davis, Jason Bateman, Chris Tucker, and Barbara Sukowa, among many others.

I felt that in that tender look towards the mother was the key to knowing which film we had to make”

How did you get involved in this film?

It all started with the script, credit to Alex Convery. I didn’t know anything about this story, and when I read it I thought it was wonderful. Then it was all step by step, and the first one was getting Michael Jordan’s blessing, because before we got too excited, Ben told me we should go see him. My kids had something to do in New York and I couldn’t go with them, but Ben went to Florida to see Michael, who luckily told him that he had no problem with us making the movie. Ben was not satisfied with that answer and asked him what was the most important thing that he would like to see appear in the film. He said we had to include George Raveling, who was later played by Marlon Wayans, and Howard White, who is played by Chris Tucker in the film. And then he started talking about his mother. Ben later told me that he’s a bit of an intimidating person, because he’s an icon and represents so many things. But also that he had a very tender look when he talked about his mother, something he had never seen before. And I felt that this was the key to knowing what film we had to make.

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But it wasn’t that simple…

No, the only bad news was that we had to get Viola Davis. Ben said that if we didn’t get her to agree to play Michael Jordan’s mother, we weren’t going to get to make the movie. The character of Dolores had to have a greater participation. The good thing is that in this cast everyone is also a filmmaker. Viola is a top notch producer. The same goes for Wayans and Tucker. They are as scriptwriters as they are actors. And her passion is making movies. Jason Bateman is a director and also a producer. that’s why for air we lean a lot on our actors. Part of our process with Ben, from The unstoppable Will Hunting , is to accompany what the actor brings, because he is the one who is experiencing the scene and knows what is best for it. So we had these conversations with Viola, where we told her if something didn’t sound right to her, to tell us how best to develop the scene. This is how the best moments in movies are achieved.

A still from the film, with Matt Damon and Viola Davis

Amazon Prime Video

His character never gives up on his obsession with hiring Michael Jordan. What was it like playing him?

I have to admit that most of what I did was in the script that Alex wrote. As for Sonny, we tried to capture the spirit of the people who were involved in this story, and not necessarily reproduce what exactly they said or when it happened. This film is about all these people on the Nike team who have individually spoken about those times at the company with enormous nostalgia. And that’s what we tried to create, and remind the public that we’re talking about those who were least likely to succeed back then, which sounds pretty weird when you’re talking about Nike today. But before this incredible deal came to pass, these guys were like renegades, like outsiders. And that is the spirit that we try to capture on the screen. All the characters, including mine, have this incredible, contagious energy that on paper I felt jumped off the page.

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Ben Affleck with Matt Damon during the filming of 'Air'

Ben Affleck with Matt Damon during the filming of ‘Air’

AP Photo/Ashley Landis

When you decided to produce the film, did you envision it as something massive or as a small independent project?

Now it’s for everyone, that’s why I took my kids to the premiere. It is one of those films that when they are released you feel that they can work with all audiences. In other times we said that these were the ones that made you feel good. But that’s exactly what it is. The idea is that you leave the cinema excited and jumping. And it’s not strictly sporty. Basketball lovers are going to be excited about what happens behind the scenes, because it tells how things happen behind the scenes. But many people have been surprised by our story. I think it connects very well because of the role that Viola plays and the way in which she guides you to get involved as a spectator.

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Ben Affleck in the movie 'Air'