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Steve Granitz/FilmMagic Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez
Ben Affleck says he got an assist from wife Jennifer Lopez on shaping his upcoming film Air.
“Oh, my God, she’s brilliant,” Affleck, 50, told The Hollywood Reporter in a new cover story published Thursday. “She is incredibly knowledgeable about the way fashion evolves through the culture as a confluence of music, sports, entertainment and dance.”
During a wide-ranging conversation that covered Affleck’s longtime friendship with Air costar Matt Damon plus his appearance at the Grammy Awards alongside Lopez, the actor-director said his wife, 53, “helped me in talking about the way in which a part of the reason why Jordans [the shoes] were so meaningful is because culture and style in America is 90 percent driven by Black culture.”
“Black culture has historically pioneered music, dance, fashion, and it’s then been stolen, appropriated, re-marketed as Elvis or whatever,” Affleck said while referring to Air, which follows how Nike first partnered with Michael Jordan in the 1980s.
“And in this case, [Nike], a White-run corporate entity, was starting to do business with African American athletes in an identity affiliation sales thing,” he added. “They were really taking value from what Michael Jordan represents and who he is. I don’t think the meaning can be overstated. They’re going to switch from, ‘Hey, guys, we are a nice shoe,’ to, ‘If Mike has it, you want it.’ “
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Ben Affleck The Hollywood Reporter Magazine Cover March 2023
The Hollywood Reporter Ben Affleck on the cover of The Hollywood Reporter
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Asked about the risk of repeating the appropriation Affleck described from Nike by making a movie about the situation, the director told THR “that’s not my film to make” and said he consulted with those who “can help me contextualize it” with the new film.
“I’m telling a story that’s about a combination of things, and this is one aspect of it,” Affleck said, explaining that ignoring “the appropriation of Black culture for profit by White Americans” would make for a worse outcome.
“What I am going to do is talk to people who understand it better than I do and who can help me contextualize it, and that was [costume designer] Charlese [Antoinette Jones], that was [costar Viola Davis],” he said. “Chris [Tucker], he gave me monologues, he gave me scenes, and it was very organic.”
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In the upcoming movie, written by Alex Convery, Affleck himself stars as Nike, Inc. co-founder Philip Knight and Damon, 52, plays sports marketing executive Sonny Vaccaro. Air also stars Jason Bateman, Chris Messina, Marlon Wayans, Gustaf Skarsgård and Davis as Jordan’s mother Deloris.
Air is in theaters April 5.