David Cross on Todd Margaret, Tobias Fünke and A**holes Like Will Arnett
Before David Cross hopped onto the phone last week to discuss The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret, his British comedy series premiering on IFC this Friday, his publicist implored, "Please, no questions about the Arrested Development movie. There really are no new developments."
It was a fair request considering that each Arrested Development cast member has been assaulted with the same question ever since series creator Mitch Hurwitz first mentioned adapting the Bluths for the big screen. And while Movieline did not ask the forbidden question, Cross -- a comedian whose other credits include The Ben Stiller Show, Mr. Show with Bob and David, Year One and sadly Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel -- was forthcoming about the birth of his Arrested character Tobias Fünke and the reason why he could be a better a**hole than Will Arnett, if only given the chance...again.
Hi Julie from Movieline! What's new in the movies this week? What's going on with Never Let Me Go?
Honestly, I cover television and this week, the newest and most disturbing show on radar was Mike & Molly. Have you caught that yet?
No, I haven't and I probably never will.
Good for you. It is pretty much a sitcom full of fat jokes.
Well then, America should love it.
Refreshingly, your series does not have fat jokes and was pitched to you as -- and filmed as -- a U.K. series. Do you think America will embrace Todd Margaret?
America as a whole? No. I think really all you need is 3 million people to watch your show and it is a success nowadays. I learned that from Bill O'Reilly by the way. But I think it will be successful in its niche definitely. I think that people who are bored by Mike & Molly will gravitate towards this show more. It's not a standard sitcom formula. It is a limited series with a beginning, middle and end. It feels a little more classic British I suppose, or a movie without all of the ads.
In the very first scene, viewers are flashed forward to the trial of Todd Margaret, where he is being tried for horrible crimes like possession of biological weapons and child pornography. By the end of the first season, do viewers know why he was charged?
No! I only shot six episodes and that is the end of the season. You'll have to beg and plead with IFC so that we can extend the run and get to the point where we explain to viewers why he is being accused of these crimes. The last scene of the season is very much "how the f*ck is he going to get out of this?"
Oh, not at all. This was never pitched to me as a show about an American who has to go to the U.K. and sell energy drinks. The British production company came to me after one of my stand-up shows in London and said, "Would you be interested in developing a show with a British writer and/or producer for the U.K. that you would star in for the U.K. that could potentially be sold to the U.S.?"
So it was your idea to have Todd Margaret tried for the possession of child pornography?
Oh, that was me. The one thing that was important to everyone involved was that this project not simply be a fish-out-of-water comedy. Like, "Hey, you drive on the wrong side of the street!?" None of that. And as I worked on this, I came up with the idea of starting here and telling the story in flashback and making a crazy list of crimes which changes every episode. You'll see the same shot and hear different crimes being read off, some horrific and some just silly, and then just trying to get to how that happened to him.
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