David Cross‘ portrayal of therapist-turned-struggling-actor Tobias Fünke became one of Arrested Development‘s most iconic characters, which is a pretty impressive considering the show was stacked top-to-bottom with talent whose comedic moments will live forever in GIF form. But before the show became a cult sensation, it was just another aspiring comedy on Fox, and during a time when the network was churning through them. (Case in point: Arrested Development itself was canceled after a shortened third season.)
While stopping by the latest episode of the Smartless podcast, Cross told hosts Jason Batemen, Will Arnett, and Sean Hayes that he almost took a pass on Arrested Development completely, but once he was talked into a short guest stint, he was hooked. According to Cross, he had just packed his entire life into a U-Haul and drove from Los Angeles to New York where he planned to stay and not get involved in another TV show for a while. That didn’t last long. Via Mediaite:
“I was kind of settled and I just didn’t want to go back and do a show that could potentially run for years and years and years.” The actor then told the show’s producers that he’d only sign on “if it was part time for like six episodes,” which they agreed to.
“I said I’ll do it under these conditions and then during shooting the pilot,” added Cross, “I called my then-girlfriend and was like, ‘This show is amazing. This cast is amazing. I have to do it. I’m so sorry. I have to stay and do this.’”
It’s interesting that Cross chose to stay because he famously had to fight Fox to keep his mustache who were adamant that facial hair breaks the “golden rules of comedy.” Obviously, the network was wrong, and Cross’ performance ended up being one of the show’s highlights.