David Cross projects cannot be killed by conventional means. After years of speculation and rumors about a return, Arrested Development re-launched on Netflix in 2013, which helped fuel the service’s early original programming efforts. Cross again saw a signature series re-launch (sorta) on Netflix, now content giant, with the Mr. Show successor w/Bob and David. Cross’ UK-produced series, The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret, seemed immune from a comeback when Cross ended it with a bang (or a boom), but here we are, talking about season three, which debuts on Thursday at 10 p.m. Eastern on IFC with the first three episodes of this season before wrapping up with the last three next Thursday, January 14.
Why return to a world that he had decided to blow up? We spoke to Cross about that, why he’s afraid of Twitter, his thoughts on Donald Trump, what he knows about Arrested Development‘s future (don’t get too excited), his upcoming stand-up tour, and how a delay in the production of more w/Bob and David influenced its timing.
What was it specifically that made you want to look at these characters in a somewhat new way for season three?
Well, it was not my idea. I, quite frankly, didn’t… I couldn’t conceive an idea. IFC had come up… asked me if I would do a third season, years and years later, and I said “no” because of what I thought were obvious reasons. How are you going to do it? Everybody’s dead. They suggested a prequel, they suggested a zombie apocalypse, and I had zero interest in these so I just said, “No, thanks.” But then I also said, “Okay, I’ll tell you what: I will, at least, get in touch with the other writers and see if they have any ideas. I can’t imagine a scenario where we’d come back.”
One of the other writers [Mark Chappell] came up with what I thought was, immediately, a really brilliant, cool idea and I was like, “Well, now I have to do it,” because it’s such a cool idea. And it’s not like I did it reluctantly because it’s a fun character to do, although the iteration of this character’s much different, but the concept was cool. I love London and got to work with that production company again, and IFC is great so it was pleasurable, at least.
You mention that Todd is obviously different in this iteration, Alice also, I think. The show gets a little more cynical, a little darker maybe. Why re-draw it in that way?
This story was the only way we could do it, and it was really about the story. About the idea. Yeah, the challenge was like, how do we get these people to be different, yet the same, and be part of Todd’s world because Todd’s so different now, and this world is different? It was fun. It was fun to put together.
Is there a way back or a want for a fourth season?
I know, I know! I’ve learned my lesson. Never say never say never say never, but, I’m telling you it is done. Finito.
What is it about a stand-up tour that appealed to you over directing another film or taking on another project right now? Are you looking to have that kind of release/response to the world at large right now?
Not necessarily, it was basically [because] I have a bunch of stand-up ready to go and I haven’t been on tour in six years and I love touring. I just got very, very busy. Putting together a set takes a good three, four months. Even though I have the material, I still have to really hone it and then figure out the sequencing of the show itself and what it is.
The reason I took it on was because Bob [Odenkirk] and I had talked about doing more Bob and Davids, but then he got the opportunity to film a movie that he’s been working on trying to do for like 10 years now. It’s been a long time, maybe even longer, and he got the opportunity to do that during his break from Better Call Saul, so he’s doing that. So, I knew that I wasn’t going to do that.
Then at the same time, same exact time, basically, I found out that I had to have shoulder surgery, major surgery, which takes you out of a number of projects because you basically can’t use your arm for two months. And then there’s a pretty intense physical therapy regimen that I’m in now. And it requires you to be in the same place for at least three or four months, which is a rarity in my life. And there was no postponing the surgery, they were like, “You have to do this right now.” So, I was like, “I’ll take this time and I’ll put together material and I’ll go out and do the tour.” That’s sort of how that came about, but it’s been long overdue, really.
The name of the tour [Making America Great Again!] obviously alludes to Donald Trump and I’m just kind of curious… the comedic response to…
What?! I don’t know what you’re talking about!
You’ll hear from the lawyers, I’m sure. The comedic response to Trump, though, it seems like some comics deal with him with kid gloves and others are dismissive of him. Where do you stand on that? What’s the comedic responsibility, if you’re a conscientious comedian?
I don’t feel any real responsibility outside of the responsibility of trying to come up with my take on something, and hopefully it’s not derivative and it’s interesting and it’s worth your money and time to hear me talk about it. Right now, I have no Trump material. The title was kind of a gift from the gods, but I’m sure I’ll develop some as the tour continues. Personally, not looking at it from the point of view of a stand-up, talking about how I would craft material about Trump, but personally I think he’s a figure of our times and, a generation ago, it was considered unseemly to be a crass reality star. Twenty years ago, it was a weird… It was new and it was something that was not seen favorably, but now it’s the norm. It’s okay not just to be a reality star and famous for being famous, but it’s actually an admirable trait, and it’s the kind of thing that can allow you to be President of the United States, so we’ve really come a long way in our cultural evolution in this country.
I assume you’re going to direct again. I’m kind of curious, would you use Kickstarter again?
I definitely want to direct again. I will most likely wait until I have a script that I’ve written that I can direct. I’m not opposed to directing somebody else’s script, but the thing that will get me really enthusiastic will be an idea I have. And I have a couple ideas and half-formed scripts lying around, but unfortunately, I can’t really focus on more than one thing at once. So, once I start to seriously get into stand-up, then all the scripts get shut down, put aside, I’ll pick them back up later. All other ideas will go on the back burner and I’ll concentrate and focus on stand-up. When I have another script done, ready to go, I will try to raise money and shoot that.
As far as the Kickstarter distribution model: I love that, I love that we did it, I love that idea. I thought it was really cool, but I don’t know that I’d do it again because it’s been done. Hopefully there’ll be a model in place where you don’t need to ask people to donate so that I can bring the movie to small towns and then perhaps a different model will be in place by then, by the time my next movie comes out. I don’t know.
Lately, with the exception of Arrested Development, your most recent projects have been your projects, with Todd Margaret, the stand-up tour now, Hits, w/Bob and David. Is that intentional? Is that the plan going forward, to really just focus on doing things that have your voice from the start?
No, not at all. That’s just how things have shaken out. I think most of my work is kind of self-generated. It’s not like the people are beating down my door with offers to direct or star or do any of those things. But I want to keep working and I have ideas, so I do my own thing. If somebody wants me to be in their movie, or direct their script and asks, absolutely. If I have the time and it’s a worthwhile project, I would definitely do that. It’s just those opportunities haven’t found their way to my apartment. Maybe I need to give people my address.
You just joined Twitter. Is that the kind of thing where you’re looking to interact with fans, or is it more just a way to advertise your projects coming up? Are you looking to get immersed in the world of Twitter?
Absolutely not. That is my greatest fear. For a couple different reasons. One is, I don’t trust myself, and I’m not trying to be funny.
No, I hear you. I can respect that.
I drink a lot, I’m opinionated. I think I’m funny when I’m not, sometimes. I don’t feel like ever having to waste the time or energy apologizing for some perceived slight somebody has from a comment I made. So, I’d rather not do that. And I also don’t have the personality that needs validation. I don’t feel compelled to stay relevant and have people always remember who I am, and know this about me. I find the whole thing kind of narcissistic and it’s not anything I want to engage in. And I think following people is kind of a waste of time and there’s other ways I like to waste my time.
But I absolutely, 100% understand how, when used ideally, it’s an incredible, invaluable tool for self-promotion and I have something to promote. I want people to come see my shows and I want people to watch my shows, so it’s a great way to get people to know about it. You know? I get that, I totally get it.
Last question, and I’m kind of required to ask, and I understand if there’s a no comment as the answer. Any update on Arrested Development?
I have no idea. I have no idea. I have no idea. I really, truly, don’t have any idea.
I know. Sorry.
I really, truly, don’t have any idea.
It’s one of those things I’m kind of required to ask, and I’d be shocked if you got through one of these without somebody asking.
I understand. I get it.
I always want to be the guy that doesn’t ask, but…
[Laughs.] But I’ll never remember it. I’ll go, “Hey, that guy didn’t ask about Arrested Development.”