Michael Jordan had a singular request about part of his life story being played out for the masses in the upcoming film “Air”: that Viola Davis play his mother, Deloris Jordan.
The EGOT winner is a seasoned Hollywood performer with the accolades to back up the praise she receives from her peers. But being chosen by one of the greatest basketball players of all time to portray the person who may be the most important in his life is an unrivaled achievement.
“I’m just hearing about it now,” Davis told People at SXSW, where the film made its premiere earlier this month. The actress added that she was grateful she did not have to go into the role knowing just how high the stakes were. “So yeah, so it blew my mind. I’m glad I didn’t know about it before,” said.
The billion-dollar businessman’s partnership with Nike takes center stage in the movie, which debuts in theaters on April 5. It also stars Chris Tucker as Howard White, Marlon Wayans as George Raveling, Matt Damon as Nike executive Sonny Vaccaro, and Ben Affleck, who pulled doubled-duty as director and portrayed Nike founder Phil Knight.
The six-time NBA championship winner signed with the company in 1984 when he was just a rookie. In his 2020 documentary “The Last Dance, Michael credited his mother with helping secure the shoe deal that helped make him one of the wealthiest athletes.
At the time that Affleck and Michael began pre-production talks about the movie, he said the athlete’s mother only had one line. “I’m thinking, “Oh my God, he wants me to offer this to Viola Davis. How am I going to offer Viola Davis a movie with one line? That’s not going to happen,” recalled the two-time Oscar winner.
“But he was like, ‘That’s my mom.’ He was dead serious. ‘Viola Davis, that’s my mom.’ And that was it. Discussion was over. However it happened, it wasn’t his problem, but it was going to f—king happen. And I was like, “OK, Mike,’” recalled Affleck in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter.
Davis described Delores as having zen serenity. She told the publication that the Jordan matriarch was “someone who just moves calmly through life, making major decisions, slaying dragons, making dreams come true. But doing it calmly and succinctly.”
She continued noting that working on the project was “an unbelievable experience that me and my husband [Julius Tennon] and even my hair and makeup team still talk about to this day.”
This year the “Fences” star made history when she won her first Grammy, which tipped her into EGOT status. She became the 18th artist to achieve the status and only the fourth Black person to win an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony.