Ben Affleck screened the world premiere of his new film Air at South by Southwest Film & TV Festival in Austin on Saturday. It was evident how badly the Goodwill Hunting actor wanted the project to succeed.
“Tonight is the most important night of my professional life,” Affleck professed on stage.
“This is an optimistic, hopeful movie about people. So I can’t hide behind being an auteur – [as if to say] ‘you don’t need to understand my movie.’ I really hope you like it … So no pressure, but it’s all on you.”
Affleck not only directed but also stars in Air, which chronicles Nike’s creation of the Air Jordan shoe line.
Air cast includes Matt Damon as the Nike executive who engineered the Michael Jordan sneaker deal. Affleck plays Nike CEO Phil Knight. The film also stars Viola Davis, Jason Bateman, Marlon Wayans, Chris Tucker and Chris Messina.
Long-time friend and co-star Matt Damon called his role called his role in the film “the greatest job I’ve ever had.”
“I showed up every day and had five-to-seven [script] pages to do opposite actors like this, it was ridiculous,” Damon said. “I’ve never had more fun. Ben and I – from from the moment we read [Alex Convery’s] script to the last cut we made in the edit – it was just absolute joy.”
Actress Viola Davis – who Affleck named “the best actor I’ve ever seen” also spoke about what playing Jordan mother is meant to her.
“Deloris and my mom were born in a generation of people whose dreams were their kids. It’s the height of Jim Crow. It’s the height of Black people being told that their dreams didn’t matter. So far her to have that big vision for her son, and to believe it wholeheartedly, is sort of miraculous. It was an honor to play Deloris.”