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THE SUNDAY CONVERSATION

It's full speed ahead for David Cross

The actor, who has the comedy 'Year One' coming out Friday, says he has been working without a break for a year and a half now -- not that he's complaining.

June 14, 2009|Choire Sicha

NEW YORK — David Cross appears in "Year One," which opens Friday, with Jack Black and Michael Cera. He is dating Amber Tamblyn, late of ABC's recently canceled "The Unusuals." We met at his East Village apartment, where he keeps his truly awesome dog.

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Is the publicist yours? Or the film's?

It's mine! I've never had a publicist before but my girlfriend, who's in the business, as they say, she's with them, and I said, wow, you know, I've got so much happening right now, in the space of a few months. I've got this movie, the London show, a book coming out ["I Drink for a Reason," due Aug. 31], and it just seemed to make sense. The whole idea of seeking out publicity was anathema to me and how I like to live, but I was also very ignorant and naive about what they do and she kind of explained it to me: No, they keep you out of those things you don't like. I'm still on the fence but then I discovered I might be able to get discounted or even free baseball tickets and I was like, let's do it. So it's a three-month trial basis. And, so far, I've gotten a free jacket and a free tie.

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They help you with outfits!

I needed an outfit for the White House Correspondents' Dinner and they made a singular phone call to GQ and I went to their offices and got fitted with a suit for the dinner and they sent someone to pick it up the next day.

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What's going on in London?

I shot a pilot for Channel 4. And it'll air, I believe, in December. When we picture-lock on Friday, it will be almost two years to the day that I was first approached by those guys. The cast is a crazy dream team. ["The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret" costars Will Arnett and Spike Jonze.]

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Is it worth getting paid in Euros?

You mean pound sterling? The time that I was going over there and working on this back and forth, the dollar was really in decline -- and prices are comparable to New York. I'd walk out of a pharmacy with toothpaste and soap, some Q-Tips, a thing of water, and I was like whoa, I just spent $39. Now that I'm getting paid, the dollar has risen up and I'm getting less. I did the math: man, 30,000 pounds, that's $60,000! Now it's only $42,000.

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What is the subject of this book of yours?

It's a collection of humor tidbits. Some of it's fictional, some nonfiction, some essays, some really silly [stuff]. The font is quite nice!

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So you're diverging. You're an octopus. You're going eight ways.

Are you saying I'm like Tad -- "8-Way Santa"? No one's going to get that reference except old punkers. I've always done a lot of [stuff]. I'm making another TV show -- my friend Jon Benjamin and I are shooting a pilot for Adult Swim.

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What are they like? Are they insane?

Yes! . . . 'Wait, I thought you said do this, now you're saying do this?' That's my brief experience with them. It's been interesting. But we're making the pilot and I'm looking forward to it

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There comes a point in a man's life where he wants to take it easier. And you're not doing that.

But you know why: because of the nature of this business and how work rolls in. Fairly recently, three years ago, I didn't work for six months. I got really depressed, I was angry, I was a [cruddy] person to be around. I didn't understand why or what was happening.

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And now you're in "Year One."

I worked pretty nonstop from January of last year to now. I literally finished shooting the sequel to "Alvin and the Chipmunks" for three days, headed to London. It's been pretty nonstop but really great. Outside of the "Alvin" thing, which I could give a [brass farthing] about.

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But that stuff pays!

Absolutely. "Alvin and the Chipmunks" paid me more than all my other projects combined: book, TV show, the two pilots, "Year One," yeah. And I'm contractually obligated to do it.

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Good for you.

It was a sequel and the first one did insane business. Anything I've been a part of creating, "Alvin" paid me twice as much as those things combined -- for very little work.

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It's the Laura Dern model.

That's your best example? Laura Dern? Your reference is 15 years old. Steve Buscemi, who was in "Con Air," who wrote and directed his own movie? I'm talking about not even acting in stuff but when you write and create something and produce it and you're not getting much money, you're adding 75% of your time.

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What is up with Amber? I always feel bad when people get their shows canned.

She worked her . . . off on that thing. . . . She'd be gone 17 hours a day.

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She's OK, right?

She'll be fine, yes! She's in L.A., her book comes out soon. It comes out basically the same week mine does. ["Bang Ditto," another collection of Tamblyn's poetry, is due out Sept. 1.] She's pretty amazing. I don't know what I did to luck out. I'm glad she pursued me.

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Is work changing for people this year?

Oh, absolutely. I'm not complaining because I have plenty of money, more money than I certainly need, and for most of my life have been used to. As you can see, I don't have a lot of luxuries.

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Just Rock Band.

And I got some art. And a dog. I don't live a lavish lifestyle. And so I'm not complaining at all. It's one of those things where, OK, you've got this offer for this movie, and it sounds great. But to tell you ahead of time, they're crying poverty, they don't have as much money as they used to, and everyone's getting less and there's nothing they can do. All the studios are going, "We just don't have it in our budget, you know." I'm sure it's down the line -- wardrobe, editing, everyone's getting less money. Except for the studios.

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