Ben Affleck didn’t get a Nike endorsement for ‘Air’, only Michael Jordan’s

“It’s not a Nike story,” Affleck said of his new film. “There are interviews and books about that.”

Early reviews for Ben Affleck’s Air suggest the Argo director has another hit on his hands. After years of devoting the majority of his time to working on DC movies, fans and critics alike seem thrilled to see Affleck turning his attention back to adult films. But while “Air” is based on the true story of Nike executives trying to land Michael Jordan in an endorsement deal, it’s not exactly an authorized biopic.

Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, Affleck explained that the proliferation of books and documentaries about Nike meant he didn’t feel compelled to include the company in his film.

“I didn’t have a conversation with Nike because I didn’t have the same sense of personal responsibility [as I did to Michael Jordan] because it’s not a Nike story,” Affleck said. “There are interviews and books about that.”

However, Affleck went out of his way to consult with Jordan on the film’s accuracy.

“Jordan is — he’s a hero to me,” Affleck said. “And I know how important and meaningful he is, especially in the African American community. If you’re struggling to talk about Michael Jordan, do it with respect. No one is asking you to do a hagiography, but do it damn right. I’ve never met anyone with that kind of charisma and power that walks into a room and it just resonates. And is he or is it the way people treat him? Is it your memories of him? I don’t know, but it’s powerful. I said, ‘Please, can I come out?’ And he was great. ‘Yes No problem. Come to the golf course.’”

While Affleck stressed that his film wasn’t conceived as a definitive Michael Jordan biopic with the NBA legend’s full participation, he says his conversation with Jordan helped him find the film’s direction.

“I have to be very clear, this is not the authorized story of Michael Jordan,” he said. “That was my statement, ‘Mike, I’m not going to do the film if you don’t agree with anything about it. I just won’t do it. I want to know what’s important to you.” He was very clear. He was the one who told me about it [Nike executive] Howard White, who did not appear in the original script, is played by Chris Tucker. And I said, ‘Any anecdotes about your father?’ And without going into too much detail, he was actually talking about his mother, which wasn’t actually in the script. That’s when I understood what the film was about. It was incredibly moving to talk to him about his mother and I was like, ‘Oh, this isn’t about Nike.'”

Air opens in theaters on Friday April 5th.

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