Music teacher Dr. Peter Archer is the real-life inspiration for Joe Gardner, the main character voiced by Jamie Foxx in Disney-Pixar’s Soul.
According to ABC7 News, Archer taught at Nathaniel Hawthorne Middle School in Bayside, NY for 34 years before retiring, and was invited to the Pixar Campus in California to assist with developing Gardner’s classroom and love for jazz. The team took measurements and photos of Archer’s classroom, recreating it for the film.
“[Co-director Pete Docter] repeatedly asked us, ‘Did I get this right? Is this correct?'” said Archer. “It’s very close actually. They did a fantastic job.”
Archer also said that Gardner’s love for music and education mirrors his own.
“My passion as a musician is just to play, same as Joe Gardner. And I think I found my spark, my love, if you will, my love for education, by accident,” he said, adding that the film’s focus on finding your “spark” is what “resonated” with him “so deeply.”
“It was such a joy teaching all those years. And for this to have happened was the perfect coda,” he said.
Soul is currently streaming on Disney+.