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“I did not expect the audience to stand up”: Ben Affleck Was Startled to See Fans Cheering for Controversial Nike Head Phil Knight Movie ‘Air’

“I did not expect the audience to stand up”: Ben Affleck Was Startled to See Fans Cheering for Controversial Nike Head Phil Knight Movie ‘Air’

Ben Affleck has left his superhero days behind and is currently looking forward to going back to making the movies that stir him creatively. The first one out of the stable is Air, a biography about the legendary shoe deal between Nike and Michael Jordan. Affleck plays Phil Knight, the co-founder and chairman of Nike. As per the Batman actor, Knight is a controversial figure who is full of contradictory philosophies. As such, he was surprised to see audiences stand up and clap for the man during a Vegas screening of the film. This led Affleck to make an important conclusion about the country.

Ben Affleck On The Audience Reception To Phil Knight In Air 

Phil Knight
Phil Knight

During a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Ben Affleck disclosed what it felt like to play Nike CEO and co-founder Phil Knight. He said:

“Phil is an interesting guy… He talks about Buddhism, Eastern philosophy. He also talks about being a ruthless capitalist. So right there, I think this is a guy of many contradictions, which is fun to play. There’s a tension between having once been the entrepreneur, the guy selling shoes out of your car, and now running a big company, being responsible for everyone’s jobs. That’s a real change. And how do you reconcile that? The way he vacillates [about spending to sign Michael Jordan] but in the end, goes for it.”

Read More: “I really look up to him”: Ben Affleck Had to Take Blessings for $30M ‘Air’ From His Favorite Director as Movie Already Hailed as Modern Day Tom Cruise’s Jerry Maguire

Ben Affleck
Ben Affleck

However, what surprised Affleck the most was the positive audience reaction to Knight. The actor thought that no one would cheer for the Nike founder, a capitalist with a net worth of about US$41.5 billion. But he was proven wrong. As per Affleck:

“When we tested the movie in Vegas, people cheered. I was happy because I thought, ‘Good, they get it.’ But I did not expect the audience to stand up and cheer for Phil Knight. I think it speaks to the fact that in this culture, we venerate capitalists. It’s our version of the divine right of kings.”

Knight’s ambition is admirable. It’s well known now that the Nike founder sold his first shoes out of a Plymouth Valiant car all across the Pacific Northwest. It wasn’t an easy journey for him. He had to work hard to achieve his dreams. As such, it’s possible that fans connect to the fact that Knight did what many others dream of, irrespective of what he is now.

Read More: “That will be limiting”: Ben Affleck Reveals Why He Stopped Working With Best Friend Matt Damon for Years as Actors Reunite for Upcoming ‘Air’

Ben Affleck Departs From Superhero Films

Ben Affleck in The Flash
Ben Affleck in The Flash

Fans of Batfleck- a term for Ben Affleck’s version of Batman, miss seeing the actor under the cape and cowl. But Affleck has admitted that he is done playing or even directing superheroes. In The Hollywood Reporter interview, the actor said that he won’t be a part of James Gunn’s new DCU:

“I would not direct something for the [James] Gunn DC. Absolutely not. I have nothing against James Gunn. Nice guy, sure he’s going to do a great job. I just wouldn’t want to go in and direct in the way they’re doing that. I’m not interested in that.”

Read More: After Dwayne Johnson, Henry Cavill, and Ben Affleck, Shazam 2 Director Abandons James Gunn’s DCU: “I’m definitely done with superheroes”

The reason for his seemingly vitriolic disdain towards superhero films probably stems from his poor experience filming Justice League. The 2017 film was riddled with production troubles and reshoots. As per Affleck:

“I’m out. I never want to do any of this again. I’m not suited. That (Justice League) was the worst experience I’ve ever seen in a business which is full of some sh*tty experiences. It broke my heart. There was an idea of someone [Joss Whedon] coming in, like, ‘I’ll rescue you and we’ll do 60 days of shooting and I’ll write a whole thing around what you have. I’ve got the secret.’ And it wasn’t the secret. That was hard. And I started to drink too much. I was back at the hotel in London, it was either that or jump out the window. And I just thought, ‘This isn’t the life I want. My kids aren’t here. I’m miserable.'”

However, the actor hasn’t departed superhero films just yet. Once Air is out in theaters, he will be seen as Batman in the upcoming The Flash film. It’s also rumored that he will star in Aquaman 2 as well. So it looks like at least for this year, fans of Batfleck will get to have one last look at the actor as Batman.

Air will be released on 5 April 2023, and The Flash will hit theaters on 16 June 2023.

Source: THR

Written by Ishita Chatterjee

A literature graduate who loves sharing her views on everything pop-culture and entertainment. Ishita especially loves dreaming about superheroes and comic books when she isn't day dreaming about them everyday either way.