Comedian and actor David Cross is probably best known to comedy audience for his roles in Arrested Development and Mr. Show or perhaps even the three seasons of The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret, a show he created and starred in. Alas, however, to younger audiences, Cross is probably best known for playing Ian in three Alvin and the Chipmunks movies, which earned over $1.1 billion worldwide.
Cross’s disdain for those films, however, is not a secret to anyone. “All I wanted was to get the f**k out of there as soon as possible … and buy a summer home with the check,” he once told Conan O’Brien during an appearance on his late-night talk show. He also called working on the third movie, Chipwrecked, “literally, without question, the most unpleasant experience I’ve ever had in my professional life,” and has long held a producer on the film responsible for mistreating Cross on that final film, which essentially saw him “forced at legal gunpoint” to spend an entire week on a Carnival Cruise.
“There was no reason for me to be there,” he had told Conan back in 2012.
It turns out, bad-mouthing the film actually cost David Cross a $150,000 bonus for violating his non-disparagement clause, as Cross told Justin Long on this week’s episode of his Life is Short podcast. It was one of many grievances Cross had with the movie, for which he has eaten “a lot of sh*t” over the years. In fact, one person who gave mocked Cross for taking the role was Patton Oswalt, who turned originally turned down the role. “Comedian Brian Posehn and I both threw the script across the room in disgust,” Oswalt joked. “David Cross caught it.”
Cross took the gig, he said, because he hadn’t worked in over six months, which felt like “an eternity” to him at the time. He had no idea that the first film would be so successful, so he had never anticipated being contractually locked into the franchise for three films.
Nevertheless, Cross said that shooting the first film was “fine,” and the second film, “OK,” but he put shooting the third film “in a different category of bad experiences. They were disrespectful of me, and just so mean to me, and so petty and weird … they were so sh*tty to me … it was so inexplicably awful. Just awful. They were sh*tty in every single way at every single point.”
Many of his problems with the movies revolve around a specific producer, who Cross has long accused of being antisemitic. Cross gave a couple of examples of how petty the producer on the movie was being. At the time, Cross says, he was in London doing pre-production on Todd Margaret, a show upon which a number of jobs were dependent. Cross had no idea if he’d be in the third Alvin movie, and the producer wouldn’t tell him, even though he repeatedly asked, because was working on another project and needed to align his schedule. He finally got the call right before Christmas, and when his agent called, he asked Cross to sit down.
“They are doing the third one,” his agent said. “You are in it, and they want you in Hawaii in ten days.”
“I was in London at the time,” Cross said. He told his agent — because he was in the midst of pre-production on Todd Margaret — that he couldn’t possibly do that, and the Chipmunks producers told him that if he didn’t show up, “we’ll sue him for breach of contract.” Keep in mind, too, that Cross was forced to shoot the film on a Carnival Cruise, in spite of the fact that he was under a pelican suit nearly the entire time and had no lines. They forced Cross to appear in the third film, Cross has explained, for no other reason than to torture him.
Another example of how petty they were being to Cross was the fact that, though he was number two on the call sheet — in other words, billed second, only below Jason Lee — they gave him a “broken down, smaller trailer” that was “about 40 years old, covered in rust and discolored” and it was placed amid a lot of very nice trailers. “I knew exactly what they were up to,” Cross told Justin Long.
The film earned an anemic 12 percent from critics on Rotten Tomatoes, but it made $350 million worldwide. Cross said that he’s still recognized worldwide for his work on the film, and takes some small solace in the fact that a number of parents have told him that he made an otherwise miserable film tolerable to watch for them.
Source: Life is Short with Justin Long