Michael Jordan cast Viola Davis to play his mother in ‘Air’

Viola Davis’ latest role is that of NBA icon Michael Jordan’s mother in the Ben Affleck-directed film “Air.”

As PEOPLE reports, Jordan personally cast Davis to play his mother, Deloris Jordan. Based on a true story, the drama centers around Deloris’ central role in his son’s game-changing Nike contract in 1984, when Jordan was a rookie. The partnership between Jordan and Nike “has revolutionized the world of sports and contemporary culture with the Air Jordan brand,” according to the official synopsis.

Viola Davis will play Jordan's mother in the film
(Left to right) Michael Jordan receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom during a ceremony November 22, 2016, in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC; Viola Davis attends the Annual William O. Douglas Public Council Awards Dinner on December 11, 2022 at The Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, California. (Composite credit: Getty)

Affleck revealed at the South by Southwest premiere in Austin, Texas that Jordan had a request to tell this story, Affleck had to cast Davis as Deloris. Davis then told PEOPLE on the red carpet that she was “flattered” after learning about it for the first time at the event.

“I just heard about it now,” the Oscar-winning actress said as her husband, Julius Tennon, walked her down the red carpet. “So yeah, that blew my mind. I’m glad I didn’t know that before.

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“It’s pretty awesome that he wants her to play his mother,” said Tennon, who plays Jordan’s father, James Jordan, in the film.

“Air” stars Matt Damon as Nike executive Sonny Vaccaro, who worked with signing Jordan, and Affleck as Nike co-founder Phil Knight. Chris Tucker plays Jordan Brand Vice President Howard White. Tucker took the opportunity to play his friend White to return to the big screen after a seven-year hiatus, PEOPLE reports.

Davis prepared for the role by watching old videos of Deloris, 81, who convinced her son to go on a date with Nike when he insisted on signing a deal with Adidas. Jordan eventually accepted Nike’s deal which included his now-iconic signature shoe as well as $250,000.

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“I use the term Zen neutrality with her. Someone who calmly moves through life, making big decisions, slaying dragons, making dreams come true. But do it calmly and succinctly. Yeah, that’s not me,” Davis said of Jordan’s mother.

Jordan has been immortalized with his own Air Jordans called Dear Deloris which debuted in 2021 as part of the Jordan Series, according to PEOPLE.

“Air” hits theaters exclusively on April 5.

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