David Cross is primarily known as a stand-up comedian, but he’s also a popular actor, director, and writer. He’s done both live acting and voiceover work, broadening his filmography with a variety of genres and animations. Though he doesn’t always act in the shows he’s helped create, he has in some of them, like the TV series Freak Show. Some of them even helped start his career in the first place.
Cross has been nominated for many awards throughout his career, from the Emmy Awards to the Grammy Awards, and even the Satellite Awards. He did manage to win one Emmy for his writing on The Ben Stiller Show, one of his first jobs in this career. That win helped him branch out and begin to do his own things, leading to the impressive filmography he has today. These are his best performances in film and television.
8 Run Ronnie Run
The satirical comedy Run Ronnie Run is about the titular character getting through a tough point of his life. Uneducated and unemployed, Ronnie passes his days drinking and terrorizing the locals. He’s divorced Tammy, the love of his life, three times, and after she rejects his latest proposal, things look down for him. However, when his criminal hijinks are caught on tape in a police television show, he suddenly becomes popular and is invited to star in a show where he gets arrested in a different city each week.
The film is a spin-off of one of Cross’s characters in mr. show, so it’s no surprise he reprises his role here too. On top of that, he plays multiple other, smaller roles, and even helped write the movie, giving himself heavy involvement in this satirical film critiquing reality television and exploitive media. It definitely helps feature several facets of Cross’ capabilities, and though it was critically reviled at the time, it has become an absurdist modern cult classic.
7 I’m Not There
I’m Not There is a musical drama about the legendary singer and songwriter Bob Dylan. Throughout the movie, several different actors portray him at different stages of his life. Each of these characters are in separate storylines that represent different facets of Dylan’s public personalities. This includes when he was a poet, prophet, outlaw, fake, rock and roll martyr, star of electricity, and born again Christian, weaving these stories together to bring a dramatized biography together.
Cross is a supporting character in the movie, portraying Allen Ginsberg, the great American poet and writer. He was friends with Dylan after forming a bridge between the beat movement and the hippies. While a difficult person to try and recreate relationships accurately, Cross does well at showing who he was and what his were like with others.
The animated superhero comedy Megamind is about a super villain of the same name. His parents helped him escape from his crumbling home planet similarly to Superman, and another kid from the planet next door has a similar idea. They both arrive together on Earth and a bitter rivalry begins. The other kid takes on the name Metro Man as Megamind begins to torment the town, thwarting him over and over again until, in a surprising twist, Megamind actually manages to defeat him.
He grows bored with running amuck in the city with no opposition, however, and decides to create a new hero to entertain him, but he soon finds he picked one of the worst people he could have if he really wanted to make a hero. Cross lends his voice to Minion, Megamind’s sidekick. Minion is an important part of the story, almost always by Megamind’s side to help him out, and he definitely brings a lot of the comedy to the film. Cross is a great addition to the cast and the movie wouldn’t be the same without him.
5 The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret
The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret is a comedy TV series focusing on the titular character, a part-time office temp who suddenly finds himself leading the London sales office of a new energy drink. There are a few problems though, the largest being that he is definitely not qualified to sell anything. His boss, however, expects him to be able to handle it and bring in a lot of good results. With only one employee at his disposal who frequently takes advantage of Todd and makes him look foolish, it’s going to be a tougher problem than he thought.
Cross is heavily involved with this show, having created it, written it, and starred as Todd Margaret. Cross brings his own version of comedy across all three of his roles in this show, proving he really was the best choice for the lead, effortlessly pulling everything together in this unique, underrated series about the gradual escalation of small lies to epic, apocalyptic proportions .
4 Kung Fu Panda
Another animated movie, Kung Fu Panda takes place in the Valley of Peace in a world full of anthropomorphic animals. Po is a panda who works in a noodle shop, and is clearly shown to be lazy and clumsy. However, he still dreams of becoming a kung fu legend and fighting alongside the Furious Five, a group of local kung fu fighters that are basically celebrities. When Tai Lung escapes from jail and threatens the valley, Po ends up chosen to fulfill a prophecy and defend the valley, despite having no training beforehand.
David Cross brings his voice to Crane, one of the Furious Five who is usually practical and sarcastic. Though he’s just a side character, Cross still does a great job bringing his comedy to the movie, and considering he was brought back for the rest of the franchise as well, it’s certainly clear he did a good job in the producer’s eyes as well.
3 mr. show
mr. show was one of Cross’ first projects that it took the lead on, developing and writing the series alongside the great Bob Odenkirk. It’s a sketch comedy series not unlike what you might see on Saturday Night Live, except much more alternative, subversive, grotesque, and ahead of its time. Cross and Odenkirk wrote and starred in the show, and each episode featured several sketches that had some kind of overarching arc tying them into each other.
Some common topics these sketches deal with are politics, religion, and pop culture. Many popular comedians nowadays also joined the cast, like Jack Black and Sarah Silverman, and many of them started their careers here. Cross is obviously integral to the show, and his three-decade relationship with Odenkirk arguably peaked here in mr. show; however, they reunited for a single short season for the absurdist Netflix series W/ Bob and David to great effect.
2 Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
If you combine romance and sci-fi together with intellectual comedy and a whole lot of whimsy, you get Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. When Clementine and her former boyfriend Joel break up, she decides to undergo a procedure to erase her memories of him. After Joel finds out what she’s done, he decides to do the same, and we see their relationship played through his mind again, from the bitter break-up all the way back to their first meeting.
As he does, he begins to regret having his memories erased, and outside his procedure, we learn that some people are still drawn to each other again and again, no matter what happened that caused them to erase their memories. Cross is one of the many great stars lingering in the background here (along with Kirsten Dunst, Elijah Wood, Mark Ruffalo, and Tom Wilkinson). Cross plays Rob Eakin in this movie, a friend of Joel’s who is in a troubled relationship of his own. This relationship mirrors the main couple of the story, and it wouldn’t be the same without them in the background of Joel’s memories; he also adds his unique brand of humor, even making lines as simple as “I am trying to build a birdhouse” somehow hilarious. The movie won an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay.
1 Arrested Development
Arrested Development is a TV sitcom that has a rather complicated history throughout its five seasons. The first three were released On Fox in the mid-2000s, and then due to its popularity as one of the most upsetting cancelations of all time, a fourth season was added to Netflix in 2013 when the streaming platform was just beginning its original programming; a subsequent fifth season came in 2019.
In the show, Michael Bluth suddenly has to take over the family’s real estate business in Orange County when his father is arrested. This new job brings him many issues as he tries to deal with his endlessly selfish and eccentric family while trying to raise his teenage son. You’ll find Cross bringing Tobias Funke to life, the husband of Michael’s twin sister and discredited psychiatrist, and now an aspiring actor. His role is at the center of a lot of the best comedy throughout the series; there are numerous great characters in Arrested Development, but Cross helps elevate them all by playing his role perfectly. There are numerous supercuts available online of Funke, who arguably provides Arrested Development with its funniest moments.