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Viola Davis says it was “flattering” yet “challenging” to play Michael Jordan’s mother in ‘Air’

E Viola Davis Air 04062023
Amazon Studios

When Ben Affleck approached the greatest basketball player of all time, Michael Jordan, about the movie Air, the GOAT had one major note: Another GOAT had to play his mother Deloris — EGOT winner Viola Davis.

Jordan explained to Ben that it was his mother who was the backbone of the story, which showed how his iconic Air Jordans came to be — and it was Deloris who insisted he get paid, to this very day, for using his name and likeness on the iconic kicks.

While snagging the actress was for co-writer/producers Ben Affleck and Matt Damon to work out, Viola explains she had to get her head around MJ’s personal recommendation.

“Listen, I wish it were my style to, like, get into ‘best, great.’ It doesn’t help me at all, you know?” she admits. “But it is flattering because I do go in with a sense of, ‘Do I belong?’ Impostor syndrome. So it’s nice to feel wanted. But then the next thought is now I got to step into the role.”

Davis adds of the character, “If you watch videos on Doloris Jordan, she is a study in Zen neutrality. The woman is very, very steady and quiet…”

She continues, “So to really just sort of envelop that spirit and everything was a challenge for me because I’m I’m the woman who always has a chip on her shoulder. I go in bombastic, you know?”

She adds, “It was both flattering, challenging and then just a joy to work with Matt and Ben and all these terrific actors. Me and Julius [Air co-star and husband Julius Tennon] still talk about it to this day. One of the greatest experiences.”

Air, which also stars Chris Tucker, Chris Messina, and Jason Bateman, is now in theaters.


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