Ben Affleck Explains Why Michael Jordan Isn’t Shown in ‘Air’

Michael Jordan plays an extremely pivotal role in Ben Affleck’s Air and is one of the most influential personality to have ever graced the sporting arenas. Despite this his face is not shown in the film aside from shots of magazine covers and snippets of archival footage of the real-life player.

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter Before the film’s world premiere at the South by Southwest Film & Television Festival last month, Ben Affleck preemptively told the audience they would not see Jordan in the film and explained why.

“How do you tell a story about Michael Jordan and never see him?” he asked of the movie, which is billed as being inspired by true events. “When you are that person, when you become so much more than a hero or an athlete or even an icon, you start to become an idea to people. You touch them and just start to represent hope and excellence and greatness. You are one of a kind. And there is no way I was ever going to ask an audience to believe that anybody other than Michael Jordan was Michael Jordan. Which was also out of my own naked self interest, frankly, because I knew it would destroy the movie. You will see him [in archival clips] in the movie, but you will see Michael Jordan as he truly is in his authentic masterful genius which exists for all of us to see. It was a deliberate choice. I thought he was too majestic to have anyone impersonate him and – as I told him – ‘You’re too old to play the part.’”

in a press statement, Affleck further explained, “Michael Jordan is so famous that I truly felt if we ever saw an actor playing it would be hard to get the audience to suspend their disbelief, because, in my opinion, there’s no convincing anybody that someone who isn’t Michael Jordan is Michael Jordan. We felt a more interesting way to tell the story would be for him to exist in the ether of the movie. To be talked about by everyone but not seen is somewhat analogous to the experience of celebrities and sports stars in modern life, because most people go their whole lives without ever meeting or seeing their favorite sports star or celebrity in person. So we only see Michael in clips and flashes. We don’t ever fully see him in person because to see him in person would be to put his feet on the ground in a way that the movie doesn’t want to do.”

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