When Ben Affleck conceived the idea of a movie about the origins of Nike and the explosion of Air Jordan’s onto the global pop culture scene, he knew he needed to sit down and talk to one man first. That man was Michael Jordan, but who did he envision playing him in the movie?
Who plays Michael Jordan in Air? In the movie Air, about the meteoric rise of Nike and the Air Jordan shoe line, Michael Jordan is portrayed by Damian Delano Young. The young actor has only 2 other movie credits to his name; Strictly for the Streets vol. 2 (2022) and Prom Night Flex (2022). Due to artistic decisions by Air director Ben Affleck, Young has minimal screen time and no speaking parts in the movie. This was done to preserve the aura of Michael Jordan.
The decision to hardly feature “Michael Jordan” in a movie known as “The Michael Jordan Movie” has raised some eyebrows from critics and other industry people that have seen the movie Air ahead of release. Affleck has been open about the artistic choices that led to the character of Jordan having minimal screen presence, usually out of focus, from behind or in extreme close up with no speaking lines.
“This is a movie about an icon, about somebody who is so meaningful that the minute I show you somebody and tell you, ‘Hey, that’s Michael Jordan,’ you’re just going to know it isn’t. I know what Michael Jordan is, I know what he is, and not only that, Michael Jordan (himself) was a little old to play this part, and we probably couldn’t afford him. But the idea was, if I show you…you know that’s not Michael Jordan. And (you’ll) know everything else is fake.”
- Air Director Ben Affleck
The movie Air looks set to a smash hit. Focusing on the period of time before Jordan was Jordan and Nike was Nike and the Air Jordan, well that was just a loose concept that the biggest star in the NBA Magic Johnson had already turned down for a Converse contract.
After the success of the Last Dance, the world’s passion for sports movies and bio-pics, with Affleck not only at the helm, but teaming up with his long term friend Matt Damon in front of the camera as well. Not to mention a host of brilliant actors alongside them. Air looks set to be a big hit, not only in the world of Sneakerheads and Hoopers.
The real star of the movie Air
What is the cast for the movie Air?
For the movie Air a full list of credited actors and who they play can be found below;
|Matt Damon||Sonny Vaccaro|
|Jason Bateman||Rob Strasser|
|Ben Affleck||Phil Knight|
|Chris Messina||David Falk|
|Viola Davis||Deloris Jordan|
|Julius Tennon||James Jordan|
|Damian Delano Young||Michael Jordan|
|Chris Tucker||Howard White|
|Matthew Maher||Peter Moore|
|Gustaf Skarsgård||Horst Dassler|
|Barbara Sukowa||Kathy Dassler|
|Jay Mohr||John Fisher|
|Joel Gretsch||John O’Neil|
|Michael O’Neill||Joe Dean|
|Marlon Wayans||George Raveling|
|Asanté Deshon||7-Eleven Clerk|
|Jessica Green||Katrina Sainz|
|Joshua Funk||Yes Man|
|Tami Jordan||Sports Book Clerk|
Who does Matt Damon play in Air?
In the movie Air Matt Damon plays the real life character of Sonny Vaccaro, an Italian American born in 1939 Pennsylvania. Vaccaro would go on to become one of the most influential figures connecting clothing brands with Basketball. Running many Summer Camps for kids, including the iconic Adidas funded ABC camp. For the purposes of the movie and maybe his greatest ever achievement, he connected Nike with Rookie Michael Jordan in the early ‘80s and facilitated the creation of the most Iconic sports shoe in history. The AIr Jordan.
Who does Ben Affleck play in Air?
In the movie Air Ben Affleck plays the real life character of Phil Knight, an American, born in Oregon in 1938. Knight is the co-founder and chairman emeritus of Nike. He has previously held the role of chairman and CEO at Nike. In 2023, Knight was ranked by Forbes as the 17th richest person in the world, with an estimated net worth of $41.5 billion.
In the movie Air, Knight is the leader of the then struggling apparel business as they try to find a place in an ever crowded sportswear market place. Before Michael Jordan the success of Nike was far from certain and a million miles from being the household name it is today.
Who does Jason Bateman play in Air?
In the movie Air Jason Bateman plays the real life character of Rob Strasser, who died of a heart attack in 1993 at the age of 46. When he died he was Chief Executive of Adidas America. Until 1987 he had been one of the key marketing gurus behind the success of Nike. In particular he had run strategy for much of the Air Jordan campaign that had changed the Sneaker Game forever.
Who plays Michael Jordan’s Mom in Air?
In the movie Air the key role of Michael Jordan’s mom is played by veteran actress Viola Davis. As Air Director Ben Affleck tells it, Davis was hand picked by Jordan himself. Affleck approached the movie with the desire to get his Air-ness to support and endorse the movie’s narrative as much as possible, after all it is really his story.