Entertainment Movies Viola Davis Was Unaware Michael Jordan Personally Cast Her as His Mom in 'AIR' : 'Blew My Mind' "I'm glad I didn't know about it before," Viola Davis told PEOPLE shortly after learning that Michael Jordan personally selected her to play his mother in Ben Affleck and Matt Damon's Nike drama, AIR By Glenn Garner Glenn Garner Instagram Twitter Glenn Garner is a Writer/Reporter who works heavily with PEOPLE's Movies and TV verticals. Since graduating from Northern Arizona University with a dual major in journalism and photography, he got his professional start at OUT Magazine, The Advocate and Teen Vogue, and he's since consistently kept his finger on the pulse of the LGBTQ community. His first book The Guncle Guide was released in 2020 and was featured on Katie Couric's list of 100 recommended books of the year. People Editorial Guidelines and Kristen O'Brien Published on March 19, 2023 07:12 PM Share Tweet Pin Email Photo: Christopher Polk/Variety via Getty; AP Photo/Thibault Camus, File Viola Davis' latest role is the mother of all roles. At Saturday's premiere of Nike drama AIR during SXSW in Austin, the Academy Award winner, 57, told PEOPLE she was "flattered" after learning for the first time earlier that night that Michael Jordan personally selected her to play his mother, Deloris Jordan, in the film. "I'm just hearing about it now," said Davis as she walked the red carpet with husband and costar Julius Tennon. "So yeah, so it blew my mind. I'm glad I didn't know about it before." Ben Affleck, Matt Damon and Viola Davis Star in First Trailer for Nike Drama AIR Tennon, 69, added: "It's pretty awesome that he wanted her to play his mom." In AIR, Deloris helps bring her then-rookie son's Nike deal to fruition in 1984, resulting in his now-iconic signature Air Jordan shoe and the multi-billion dollar Jordan Brand. Tennon plays Michael's late father, James Jordan Sr. Viola Davis in AIR. Courtesy of Prime Video Davis researched by watching videos of Deloris, currently 81, from that era, noting "the fear" of getting her portrayal right. A Look Into Michael Jordan's Family Life Through Rare Photos "I use the term zen neutrality with her. Someone who just moves calmly through life, making major decisions, slaying dragons, making dreams come true. But doing it calmly and succinctly. Yeah, that's not me," added Davis. Although M.J. originally had his sights set on Adidas, it was his mother who urged him to hear Nike out. "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," he recalled in his 2020 ESPN docuseries The Last Dance. Michael Loccisano/Getty for SXSW Nike subsequently gave him the signature shoe that Adidas wouldn't, as well as $250,000 (more than double their competitor's offer). "[I] go into that meeting not wanting to be there, and Nike made this big pitch," said Jordan. "My father said, 'You'd have to be a fool not taking this deal. This is the best deal.'" RELATED VIDEO: Viola Davis Earns EGOT with Grammy Award for Memoir Audiobook Narration: 'I Just EGOT!' Deloris has even been immortalized in Air Jordan form after her son debuted the Dear Deloris in 2021, part of his Jordan Series, which pays tribute to those who have shaped his legacy. Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories. AIR, the first title under Ben Affleck and Matt Damon's Artists Equity production banner, was helmed by Affleck, 50, who also plays Nike co-founder Phil Knight. Damon, 52, stars as Sonny Vaccaro, the Nike salesman who worked on signing M.J.