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Q&A: David Cross on 'Arrested Development,' Cutoff Shorts and Overpowering the Grid

'It's audacious and amazing,' he says of beloved show's return

August 22, 2012 8:00 AM ET
David Cross
David Cross
Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images

After years of speculation and anticipation, the cast and crew of Arrested Development are finally at work on new episodes. In the interim David Cross wasn't waiting by the phone covered in blue paint, like Tobias Funke: he released his third comedy album in 2010, created and starred in The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret on IFC and guest-starred on Modern Family. Cross took the time to talk to Rolling Stone about the return of the cult favorite.

It's been almost ten years since the show started.
I never really thought of it that way. I don't know of any project that's had a shelf life [like this]. It was about a four-and-a-half year window of people thinking, "OK, it might be any month now that it starts."  You know, "Next month? Next year. Next year? Next two months. Tomorrow? Three years." And that process was four years, so it seems very present.  That whole part was longer than actually shooting.

How does it feel to be back in the cutoffs?
Well, the cutoffs themselves are great, because that first day of shooting we were in Burbank, and it was 102 degrees. It was a treat to be in the cutoffs. It's great, and it's a little surreal. I would say about half of the crew is back, the same crew from six years ago. We're all older and people are married, have kids now. There's no good way to do it. You're not gonna sit around on set and shoot the shit for three hours and catch up. You just get there at 6:30 in the morning and go. And you know, an hour and half later you're in front of the camera doing your first scene.

Is a 10-episode season still the plan?
I think it's going to be 13 episodes, not 10. There's too much story. Some characters will have two-parters. Everybody sort of participates, sometimes in a bigger way and sometimes in a tiny little thread that goes through everybody else's stories.

Is the new season going to be more serialized, like some of the later episodes?
I'm not gonna divulge anything, but I know what the stories are and what Mitch [Hurwitz] is doing, and it's so layered. It's really audacious and amazing. I think a lot of people will miss the work that is involved, the story, the Venn diagrams that are being created, the domino effect that characters have with each other in their various episodes. I know what he's doing, and this has never been done on a TV show like this. This makes Lost look like a Spalding Grey monologue. You'll have to watch each episode more than once.

Do you think the return of AD and the possible Party Down movie and the campaign to save Community have happened because fans have the Internet, or something else?
The networks finally caught up to the understanding of how people watch TV. If it was one year later, Arrested Development would still be on the air. Or, not currently, but it wouldn't have gotten cancelled. Just one year! It took them a while to figure out what everybody else already knew, which is that people aren't watching the show the night it airs.

The new episodes are going to be released on Netflix. What's it like working with them compared to a network?
Netflix is great. They don't meddle at all. They know what they want. They're happy to have it. The idea of Fox and NBC and being kind of studio- or network-loyal is absurd. People don't give a shit. What is it? It's on the plane. It's on Netflix. It's on Hulu. It's on YouTube. It's on the Internet. That's how people watch TV.

A lot of people are already planning marathons and parties for the new episodes.
I think there's gonna be a lot of power outages across North America. I think the grid is gonna go down.

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