Air stars Ben Affleck and Matt Damon explain what it was like for Affleck to finally direct Damon in a film project. The lifelong friends’ latest collaborative effort, Air, is a biographical sports film following Nike shoe salesman Sonny Vaccario (Damon), who works to sign a promotional deal with rookie Michael Jordan before he becomes a legend. Affleck directs the film and also co-stars as businessman Phil Knight.
According to IndieWire, during a recent Q&A at a screening of the film, Affleck and Damon opened up about what it was like for Affleck to direct Damon in a film for the first time thanks to Air. Joking around with one another, the actors discussed how their work on Air felt the same as every other time the pair had collaborated, making it a positive filmmaking experience. Check out what Affleck and Damon had to say below:
Damon: Well, it might seem like the first time he’s directed me. I mean, we did high school plays where he was like, ‘Dude, I think you should do it like this.’ He’s been directing me for like forty-something years. Honestly, it was kind of a natural progression. We’ve written a bunch of movies and produced and acted together for so many years and decades, so it didn’t feel any different, working this way.
Affleck: We’ve gotten that question a lot, I keep thinking, ‘Should it have felt different?’ Because it felt exactly the same. And what was really wonderful about it was, I love and trust Matt so much, and it was so lovely to be working together, it was kind of like a feeling of, I want the other actors to feel [this too]. Like, ‘Come on, it’s all good, I love actors, I love you, you’re going to be OK, everyone, take as much time as you want, do what you need to do and be respected, and to kind of project that energy.’
Ben Affleck & Matt Damon’s Collaborative History Explained
While Air is the most recent collaboration between the prolific actors, Affleck and Damon have been longtime friends since their early days of filmmaking. Their first feature film collaboration was 1997’s Good Will Hunting, which they co-wrote and starred in. The film was nominated for nine Oscars, winning two, including one for Best Screenplay. Since then, the duo have acted in multiple movies together, including 1999’s Dogma and 2021’s The Last Duel.
Because of how frequently Affleck and Damon have collaborated with one another, it’s no surprise to see the pair together again onscreen in Air. In the film’s official trailer, Damon’s Sonny tries to convince Affleck’s Phil to take the risk of having then-rookie Michael Jordan become the star of Nike’s basketball shoe division. The movie’s documentation of Nike’s rise thanks to the Air Jordan basketball shoe line seems like it will be portrayed faithfully by both actors, who appear dedicated to their roles in the film.
Since this is the first time Affleck has directed Damon, it’s likely that the duo were able to collaborate closely behind the scenes given their friendship. Even though Affleck is directing the movie, his co-starring role, coupled with Damon’s acting abilities, are bound to influence how the film’s historical events are presented. It should prove interesting to see how Affleck’s direction of Damon and their friendship influences Air when it arrives in theaters in April.
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