Although “Air” won’t hit theaters until April 5, early reviews suggest the ultra-talented Viola Davis stole the show.
Davis played the role of Michael Jordan’s mother, Deloris Jordan, in the film, which chronicles the game-changing partnership between MJ and Nike. Her appearance, “Air” director Ben Affleck has stated publicly, was at the request of the NBA icon himself.
“I said [to Michael Jordan] offhandedly — which is always a mistake — ‘Who do you think should play your mom?’ He said, ‘It has to be Viola Davis.’ That’s kind of like saying, ‘Can I get a basketball team together? Sure, It has to [have] Michael Jordan,’” Affleck said during a press junket Monday.
Speaking with media, Davis said MJ’s request was “flattering.”
“I do go in with a sense of, ‘Do I belong,’ imposter syndrome, so it’s nice to feel wanted,” Davis said. “But then the next thought is, ‘Now I’ve got to step into the role.’”
Of Deloris, Davis said she is an “incredible woman” who is a “study in zen neutrality.”
“The woman is very, very steady and quiet. I would imagine that even when she gets mad, she’s probably very, very, very steady,” Davis said. “To really envelop that spirit and everything was a challenge for me because I’m the woman who always has a chip on her shoulder. I go in bombastic. It was both flattering, challenging and then just a joy to work with Matt [Damon] and Ben [Affleck] and all these terrific actors. Me and [my husband] Julius [Tennon] still talk about it to this day. One of the greatest experiences.”
Addressing her steady nature further, Davis playfully questioned whether or not Dolores played poker.
Matt Damon, who played the role of famed sports marketing executive Sonny Vaccaro in the film, replied with a laugh: “She did. This business deal was the greatest hand of poker of all time.”
Successfully playing the role of Deloris, according to Davis, was possible because of her trust in Affleck.
“There’s a lot of times you go on set, you don’t trust anyone because truth be known, there’s a lot of people in our profession who don’t know what they’re doing. And I’m not saying that from any kind of place of condescension or giving anyone shade,” Davis said. “Everyone sees a result of a movie or a career, but they don’t see the journey. It’s the journey, it’s the process where you see the artistry. The people actually know what they’re doing, know how to piece it together, know what they want, know what they’re seeing in the camera that’s not working, knowing how much, how little. Oftentimes, I’ve had a 40-year career where I’ve trusted certain people and they have done me wrong because you don’t always see it. You do need help sometimes.”
She continued, “I trusted him [Affleck]. I trusted what he saw, I trusted his process, I trusted his choice even in the actor’s that they were going to deliver.”