Why Is Michael Jordan Barely In The ‘Air’ Movie?

With Air slam dunking into theaters, audiences might be surprised to see that basketball legend Michael Jordan is barely in the film despite the entire story being centered around Nike’s efforts to land the world famous athlete for one of the most iconic endorsements of all time. According to director Ben Affleck, who also plays Nike founder and CEO Phil Knight in the film, not including Jordan was always the plan.

Air is not Michael Jordan’s story, but there is no story without him,” Affleck told Collider.

The film is instead focused on Nike’s dealing with Jordan’s mother, Deloris, who the basketball star specifically requested be played by Viola Davis. Affleck also recognized from the start that including too much of Jordan would distract from the story that Air wanted to tell:

“The fact that he was not in it is definitely the plan from day one because I just think he’s too big and meaningful and famous and grand to ever have the audience believe that somebody else was him, especially given an actor wouldn’t have the whole movie to try to flesh it out. I’ve seen it done.”

Affleck then cited one of Denzel Washington’s most iconic performances as the gold standard for these situations, and there’s just no matching that effect.

“Denzel did it with Malcolm X,” Affleck said. “You know that thing where at the end of the movie you’re surprised that the real Malcolm X we see in the clips doesn’t look like Denzel, but that opportunity wasn’t available, and I thought it would undermine the movie.”

Air is now playing in theaters.

(Via Collider)