David Cross Calls 'Chip-Wrecked' "The Most Unpleasant Experience" Of His Career

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by Gabe Toro
December 14, 2011 1:15 PM
12 Comments
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David Cross Talks Second Season Of 'Todd Margaret' & 'Arrested Development'

When comedian and actor David Cross took a role in “Alvin and the Chipmunks,” he received endless criticism from fans used to the alterna-comic’s anti-authoritarian stance. His memorable response suggested he was aware of how it looked, but hey, kid movies pay the bills. Well, it's four years later, and Cross is appearing in "Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chip-Wrecked" opening this weekend. "I’m contractually done," he said during press rounds for his television show "The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret." "I was contractually obligated to do three, which is kinda standard." But now his outlook on the work is considerably less positive.

"This last film was literally, without question, the most unpleasant experience I’ve ever had in my professional life," he says of 'Chip-Wrecked,' where he reprises his role of record executive Ian. Without naming names, he says, "It’s safe to say I won’t be working with some of those people ever again. Not the actors. And the director [Mike Mitchell] was great. We got along. There were a couple of people, though…it was just a really awful, unpleasant experience." Which isn't to say the entire 'Chipmunks' experience has been rotten for him. "I got recognized in China," he says, listing off the places 'Chipmunks' has taken him. "I got recognized in a teeny tiny town in Mozambique. In Zimbabwe. Botswana. It’s crazy."

Right now Cross' energies are focused on 'Todd Margaret.' The IFC series, created by Cross, begins its second season in January. It follows Cross as the title character, an executive at an energy drink company who encounters a series of unfortunate personal and professional setbacks. Season two will begin with Margaret standing trial for a series of crimes, though each episode will take a different approach. "There’s different dialogue each time which will give you an idea of what will happen in the episode," Cross says. "Season two opens with Todd in a military bunker in North Korea surrounded by armed soldiers and he’s got his hands hoisted above a nuclear bomb button, and he’s saying, 'I don’t know if this is such a good idea, guys.' "

'Margaret' mixes the bizarre and the mundane into a series of complex comedic storylines, though Cross is mostly happy to be working free of studio interference. "They haven’t really given me too many notes," he says of IFC. "Some of their notes about story structure were actually good, which is not always the case. They would say things, and we’d go back and forth, and I’d be like, 'Are you fucking kidding me? There’s no way I’m doing that! And eventually they’d let me get my way.' " But creating, producing, writing and starring in his own series has given him a new appreciation for his other acting jobs. "It’s way more work, but it’s more satisfying at the end of the day," he sighs happily. "Not that I’m not proud of my work in other things, but the writing is fun, shooting is fun, editing is fun. I love all aspects of it, and they all satisfy different [interests]. It allows me to treat acting in other jobs the way it should be approached by any actor, which is, this is like a paid vacation. Unless it’s something like 'Alvin and the Chipmunks,' you don’t bitch about it. You’re so thankful to be there, y'know, they feed me well. You’re getting paid to have fun."

Cross also has a role in the upcoming indie "It's a Disaster." The film follows four couples trapped in a home as the world ends around them. "That was a fucking blast," he says of the microbudget indie, which co-stars Julia Stiles, America Ferrera, and Erinn Hayes. "That was so much fun. In part because it was such a low budget movie. And it was really just myself and seven other actors. It was a real labor of love, miniscule budget."

In the film, "Dirty bombs are going off in the downtown area, you don’t see it, you just hear it," Cross describes. "You hear cop sirens, helicopters, you see a guy in a hazmat suit, and [the characters are] just not putting two and two together. It’s a very talky, comedy indie. And it was a character I don’t get to play very much. Kind of a straighter guy who has a little secret that’s revealed at the end."

Of course, when it comes to 2012, most people are ready for Cross to get started on "Arrested Development." He's plenty excited too, though unless you're Mitchell Hurwitz, he knows just as much as you do. When asked about the story, he can only offer, “I’m not part of the writing process. We’re still several months away from getting scripts." According to Cross, no one in the cast is signed but everyone is "verbally committed. No one wants to be the asshole who ruins it for everyone else. But no one doesn't want to do it, everyone’s excited.”

What most 'AD' fans don't know is that apparently Cross, who memorably played noted "never-nude" and accredited "analrapist" Tobias Funke almost had a shot at playing one of the infamous Bluth brothers. "When I read the script, Tobias was the one where I got him immediately," Cross says. "I said, 'I know exactly who this guy is, I know how to play him.' And that was the deal, that it was recurring. I had just moved to New York after living in LA for nine and a half years. I had been here for three years and was like, 'Man, I’m not going back there.' And, we were shooting maybe the second [episode], and I called my girlfriend, and I told her, 'This thing is fucking great, I have to do this.' So I jumped on right there."

"The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret" begins its second season January 6th on IFC. Meanwhile, you can get more Cross when 'Chip-Wrecked' opens this Friday.

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12 Comments

  • LUCINDA SANDERSON | March 12, 2012 11:17 PMReply

    I thought you stole the show in the first 'ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS' movie. If you get to return for the fourth movie, you should make sure they write lines for you that you think are funny. It is great they paid you enough for your other prodjects.

  • irritant | December 19, 2011 6:34 PMReply

    How stupid are you all? Have you never bitched about an employer? If you have, return those paychecks!

  • Randy McMurphy | December 18, 2011 7:41 PMReply

    He's probably talking about Ross Bagdasarian and his wife Janice Karman.... Two of the most difficult people in animation BUT two of the most ardent determined people to protect their characters. David Cross may be right, but these characters are something they have dedicated their lives to, not just the past 3 films! They will not let anyone screw with what they want plain and simple. I had a friend that worked with them for years and I heard lots of stories! If David Cross had as much too lose as they do, he'd be picky too!

  • Jeff | November 16, 2012 6:40 PM

    Ross Bagdasarian (Junior) only inherited his "meal ticket" from his late father, whose original Chipmunks records have all the charm and imagination his don't.

  • IJustGottaSay | December 16, 2011 2:39 PMReply

    As much as I love David's Tobias, this is ridiculous. Way to pull a Heigl. You cashed their check and now you're calling them out? That is a eunuch move.

  • Zach | December 14, 2011 10:22 PMReply

    David can do whatever movies he wants. There's no such thing as "selling out" anymore, at least not in the sense that Bill Hicks railed about. But here's the thing: when you make THREE Alvin and the Chipmunks movies, you lose the right to bitch about how banal or horrible Larry the Cable Guy is. Forever. Do your movies for money, do your "indie" stuff, but don't begrudge others the right to make money being awful. It smacks of a certain tone deaf hypocrisy.

  • Andy | December 14, 2011 3:43 PMReply

    If you want to trash the movie or the experience of working on it before it opens, then return the money you took for the role. Can't have it both ways bud.

  • Alan | January 26, 2013 3:45 AM

    Goddamn, what kind of moron are you? Never once complained about a job?

  • Anders | December 17, 2011 8:25 PM

    Mr. Cross, this country is taking a turn for the worst. We have to got to return to the values that made this nation great. Please return the check.

  • al | December 14, 2011 6:14 PM

    Um, yes you can. Clearly.

  • Scott Mendelson | December 14, 2011 2:55 PMReply

    To be fair, Mr. Cross may be basing at least some of his 'unpleasantness' on the fact that he allegedly spends the entire film dressed in a pelican suit. It's not quite Peter Weller being miserable while trapped in the Robocop suit, but I can sympathize.

  • Christopher Jason Bell | December 14, 2011 1:29 PMReply

    Used to see him at Q and not U shows. love'em.

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