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


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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