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David Cross on ‘Terra,’ Voice Acting, and Poop Scooping

Left: Cross. Right: Terra.Photo: Getty Images, Courtesy of MeniThings


David Cross, the comedian and actor behind Arrested Development’s Tobias Fünke and Mr. Show, makes his voice-acting premiere in Terra, a dystopian CGI flick premiering at the Tribeca Film Festival. Starring the celebrity vocal cords of Luke Wilson, Evan Rachel Wood, and Cross, Terra follows a war between peaceful aliens and war-hungry humans (hint, hint) who seek a new home after Earth's environmental destruction (cough, cough). Cross provides the voice of Giddy, a robot who mediates between the warring sides. He spoke with Vulture about the rigors of voice acting and his upcoming HBO pilot with Mr. Show co-creator Bob Odenkirk.

You’ve done TV and movies in the past, but voice acting is a new project for you. How did you get involved?
Hold on, I have to pick up dog poop. I’m walking my dog Ollie. Okay, I’m back. I got an offer, which is kind of rare, to see if I was interested. So I went to L.A. and was impressed by their passion for it, and the project itself, and said I’d do it.

The film’s message echoes a lot of your politically charged stand-up.
Unless I’m talking about abortion.

You’ve played some fairly absurd characters in the past, so was it weird to play the voice of reason?
We kind of had that idea for the character from the beginning, so those were the instructions.

Is voice acting as easy as it looks?
It was the easiest gig in the world. You get so many times to do it. It’s not like anyone’s going, “Oh, shit, that was our only chance!” My schedule at the time was pretty tight, so I flew in over the weekend, sat in the booth, did the voice, and then went home. And then I had one more follow-up session in New York.

Any anecdotes from working with Luke Wilson and Evan Rachel Wood?
I sat in a booth by myself. That’s not uncommon in that business. I have a couple other voice-over things coming out, and only one gig was with another person.

What other projects are coming out?
Kung Fu Panda is coming out next month, and some movie, like, The Legend of Something Something.

You don’t remember the title?
Man, it was a while ago. Like, a year ago. And they don’t take very long to make. You’re just in and out of a sound booth in a matter of hours, so you forget about it. Legend of Secret Pass, that’s it. Or! The Secret of Legend Pass*. And there are some other ones sitting around — who knows when they’re going to be released?

Are you going to see any other movies at the Tribeca Film Festival?
I don’t even get to see my own. I haven’t seen [Terra] yet. I haven’t the slightest idea what’s playing. I’m going out to L.A. to film something else.

The HBO show that you and Bob Odenkirk are writing?
Yeah, David’s Situation. Bob and I are both writing it, and I’m starring in it. It’s not a traditional sitcom, and I play myself. I’ve left Hollywood, disgruntled, and I’ve moved to this gated community in suburban America where I live with a left-wing extremist and a right-wing extremist, and I’m in the middle. I write for an in-flight magazine. But we’re just going out to film the pilot at this point.

Will there be any crossover appearances from your old co-stars from Mr. Show and Arrested Development?
In the pilot we’ve got Matt Besser, Eric Hoffman, Mo Collins, and John Ennis.

Do you follow any other TV shows?
I’m a huge fan of Battlestar Galactica. To the point where I’ve forsaken every other show.
—Annsley Chapman

*Note: It's The Legend of Secret Pass.