Gabriel Sunday Talks 'Archie's Final Project' & Teen Suicide Prevention
After years of making people laugh on The Suite Life of Zach and Cody and movies like Year One and Woodstock, Gabriel Sunday is now making a difference. Showing off his chops behind the camera, Gabriel co-wrote and starred in the multi-award winning Archie’s Final Project. The movie tells the story of Archie, a 17-year-old media-obsessed nerd who announces his planned suicide on camera for his final school project. For the first time ever, Archie is getting all the attention of his classmates and even the girl he loves.
Gabriel chatted with Celebuzz to get the scoop about the film, his celebrity fans (like Britney Spears!) and the nationwide suicide prevention movement this movie has began.
The iAmAnArchie movement has taken Facebook and Twitter by storm. Hundreds and thousands of teens, and even some celebrities, are realizing that they too, are an “Archie.” Garbiel explains to Celebuzz that he "wouldn’t have worked so hard on a film if it wasn’t for this message. It feeds something back to you as you're working on it."
What was your inspiration for taking such a deep topic like this and putting it to life on-screen? "The film to me was really about connection. It was this piece where this character was really trying to do what a lot of young people today are trying to do. It’s like speaking the language of young people and to me it was about this kid, Archie, trying to reach out and find connection somehow. It was just kind of trying to take that simple idea and running it throughout the film."
Did playing a character like “Archie” change you at all? "Completely changed my life. I'm a totally different person because of this film. The whole process, from conception to writing to shooting to post production like six years, its been a long process."
How did you get hooked up with Adrian Grenier and get his support for the film? "I was out at Sundance and saw Adrian’s film (Teenage Paparazzo). I was just blown away by it. We just started hanging out, and he was like ‘Hey I got a cabin, and you should come hang out and snowboard.' We just started kickin’ it, and he had me direct a few short films for his website. We just became great friends. I live with him now, and he’s totally plugged into that theme as far as media goes. He hosted the L.A. screening, and he’s really gotten behind the character. He has been able to voice some stuff for us, and when Vinny Chase speaks up people listen."
What was it like getting recognized by people like Brittany Spears and will.i.am? "It's huge, but it makes sense. People should be talking about it. Will.i.am is a smart dude and really into bettering his communities. He is totally an Archie, and he would totally connect with him. It's so funny how the most random people could relate to a suburban white kid struggling with his own existence.
There has been a ton of feedback and life changing stories this film has brought about, is there one story that made this all really worth it for you? "We had this kid in Orange County who saw the film and went back home and pulled his suicide note out of the garbage can and showed it to his family, and the film showed him, hey this is my way of connecting, I’m Archie, and this character is so much like me. All the feedback has been my continued voice and that has kind of maintained my connection with the film. Just the conversation and hearing their voice and helping them voice whatever they have to say. Suicide is this silent killer among kids and if there is some kind of voice or inspiration, then they will talk about it. Its a great first step to some kind of healing."
What tone can we expect to see in upcoming movies from you? "I’m always gonna be plugged into the suicide prevention world through my six or seven years of being in that world its just become a part of my life so I’m always going to be doing something for that my entire life."
What’s next for you? "I’m working on a movie now about a schizophrenic musician named Daniel Johnston, who has a huge following. He was Kurt Cobain’s favorite songwriter."
Be sure to pick up Archie's Final Project -- available on DVD Tuesday, Dec. 6.