Idris Elba Says Michael Jordan Declined to Have Actor Portray Bulls Legend on Film

Adam WellsMay 24, 2022

Michael Jordan looks on during the first half of an NBA basketball game between the Charlotte Hornets and the New York Knicks in Charlotte, N.C., Friday, Nov. 12, 2021. (AP Photo/Jacob Kupferman)
AP Photo/Jacob Kupferman

One of the most reliably profitable genres in Hollywood is the celebrity biopic, but Michael Jordan isn't ready to have his story portrayed on the silver screen.

Appearing on Complex's Sneaker Shopping (starts at 7:26 mark), actor Idris Elba said he spoke with Jordan about playing him in a movie. 

"In my head, playing Jordan wouldn't be about playing the basketball player; it was about the businessman," Elba said. "He is a very astute businessman, really smart. And his work as a philanthropist is unspoken, but people don't understand the work. He cares; he does a lot of work. So that's where I was hinting at. I was like, I wanna play Jordan—I'm doing that. He was like, 'Ah, I'm not ready for that story yet.'"

Elba certainly has the charisma and screen presence to play a larger-than-life figure such as Jordan. He was one of the standouts in a loaded cast on The Wire as Stringer Bell. 

It's fair to wonder if a Jordan biopic will ever materialize. The version of himself that he wanted to be portrayed publicly was released in 2020 when The Last Dance aired on ESPN.

The documentary series, while incredibly entertaining, was about further enhancing the Jordan mythos he built during an iconic 15-year NBA career. There were also several biopic elements of Jordan's life in Space Jam, including the death of his father and his first retirement from basketball. 

There are certainly many other stories about Jordan that could be told in a film version of his life, but it doesn't sound like we will get one any time soon.