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Jason Bateman & Chris Messina Say Ben Affleck Had a Blast Directing ‘Air’

Apr 6, 2023


In director and producer Ben Affleck’s business biopic, Air, we go back to Nike’s humble beginnings before all-star Michael Jordan alley-ooped them to notoriety.

Before Nike was a top-tier sports brand, it was an underdog running shoe company looking for a break in the basketball space. In the mid-eighties, the company’s resident basketball expert and fan, Matt Damon’s Sonny Vaccaro, was enlisted by CEO, Phil Knight (Affleck), to bolster their basketball division. When things don’t go as hoped and the division risks being shuttered, Vaccaro makes one last-ditch effort; he places his bets on rookie player, Michael Jordan. In order to lock the deal that could change everything, he’ll have to give the pitch of his life to the young athlete along with Jordan’s mother, Deloris, played by Viola Davis. While Vaccaro has Nike marketing executive Rob Strasser (Jason Bateman) by his side, Jordan’s hot-headed agent, David Falk (Chris Messina), proves to be a challenging force to navigate.
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Before checking out Amazon Studios’ Air in theaters on April 5th, find out what it was like on set in Perri Nemiroff’s interview with Bateman and Messina, which you can watch in the video at the top of this article or read in transcript form below. During their conversation, Bateman offers a new perspective on Affleck as a director while Messina shares what it was like to reunite with Affleck after collaborating on Live by Night and Best Picture winner Argo. They also discuss navigating the “maze” of the film industry.

Image via Amazon Studios

PERRI NEMIROFF: Jason, I was reading about how a big draw for you with this project was getting the opportunity to have a front-row seat to Ben’s directing. Now having had the experience, what is something about him as a director and leader on set that makes him stand out? Maybe even something you back-pocketed that you’d like to apply to one of your directing gigs in the future?

JASON BATEMAN: No, I was surprised how bad he was. You know, you wouldn’t think it. You know, best picture and all that stuff, and then just garbage on the set. But he’s well-surrounded, and listen [gestures to Messina], he’s nodding. Everybody can tell. I’m surprised it hasn’t gotten out yet. But we powered through, we had a great script to work from, and everything seemed to work out okay.

[Laughs] Our press notes, start to finish, are people praising Ben, so I did not believe you for a second there!

CHRIS MESSINA: Nope.

BATEMAN: Trusting them to lie about what’s going on. We’re the honest ones.

CHRIS MESSINA: We gotta be honest here.

BATEMAN: We’re making news today.

That’s my headline, obviously, “Ben Affleck, a Terrible Director Who Made a Great Movie.”

BATEMAN: Garbage. Two thumbs down.

Image via Amazon Studios

Chris, you, on the other hand, have worked with Ben two times. Even after having worked with him on Argo and Live by Night, what is something he did on the set of Air that even you didn’t expect he was capable of?

MESSINA: I guess he was even more confident, maybe even more relaxed. He was surrounded by his best friend and so many of his friends. He’s worked with Jason before. He says that he’s always wanted to work with Viola, Chris Tucker. I’ve done three movies with him. [Matthew] Maher has worked with him before. Bob Richardson shot this. He shot Live by Night. The list goes on. It was very much like a family affair. He seemed to be having a blast and that was contagious. So were we.

I always love hearing about experiences like that.

One of my favorite parts of this movie is how it’s mainly about someone who chooses deeply authentic passion over what some might deem the smarter business move. So over the course of your careers, can you give me an example of a time when someone recognized your vision, your passion, and your heart over what might be the better business or financial decision, they believed in something that you wanted to do, you got to do it, and it turned out great for it?

BATEMAN: Man, I don’t know about that. I mean, I guess an easy one would be if I said, ‘Oh, I wanna go do this equity waiver show, some small little theater job at the expense of doing a big paycheck film.’ I’ve never had one of those to have to battle between, fortunately. I don’t get a lot of choices, you know? I take what I get and every once in a while, it works out.

Image via Amazon Studios

MESSINA: I think it’s almost every other day, at least for me in this business, where you’re just doing this, doing what we do, you’re constantly being told, ‘No,’ or, ‘You can’t,’ you know? So whether you’re giving it to yourself or you’re looking at your loved ones going, ‘Go,’ it’s pretty much an everyday kind of maze. I don’t know if I can spot one specifically, but it’s consistent.

Air hits theaters on April 5th. In the meantime, check out the trailer for Air below:

Disclaimer: This story is auto-aggregated by a computer program and has not been created or edited by filmibee.
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