Ben Affleck continued work on his Nike movie with Matt Damon this week. Ben and Matt worked on the script and are co-producing, Ben is also directing, and the cast includes Viola Davis too so there are three Oscar winners in this movie which will come up in the promotion, I guarantee you. They always flash those credits across the screen: “directed by Oscar winner Ben Affleck”, “starring Oscar winner Viola Davis”, “also starring Oscar winner Matt Damon”…
Jason Bateman, Chris Messina, Marlon Wayans, and Chris Tucker are also a part of it. Chris Tucker is pretty selective about his movies. He hasn’t been in a movie since Ang Lee’s Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk in 2016 and before that it was David O Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook so he’s definitely a get for Ben and Matt. And yet another reminder of Ben’s reputation as a director.
The culture has laughed at him but there’s often a disconnect between his public reputation and his professional one within the industry. He directed an Oscar-winning film which arguably isn’t his best film – that would be, in my opinion, The Town, also featuring an experienced ensemble cast. Actors clearly trust him. Viola Davis, however, is the greatest actor he’s ever directed. I can’t wait to see the results.
Viola is playing Michael Jordan’s mother, Deloris. This is the origin story of MJ and Nike. It’s a huge story because, well, Air Jordans are the reason why sneaker culture, which goes way beyond footwear, is what it is now – a big f-cking deal. If Michael Jordan did not sign with Nike, so much of what we see and engage with and experience in our time wouldn’t be a reality. The sports industry would be different. Which means celebrity would be different. And fashion would be different.
But it almost didn’t happen. MJ did not want to meet with Nike, he was set on Adidas. But as we all know now from The Last Dance episode five, it was Deloris who told her son to take the meeting. As MJ recounted in The Last Dance, “My mother said, ‘You’re gonna go listen. You may not like it, but you’re gonna go listen. She made me get on that plane and go listen.”
Think about that. It was a Black woman, a Black mother, who was responsible for one of the most significant symbols of modern pop culture history.