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Multifaceted comic David Cross goes back in time for his latest film, Year One.


DAVID CROSS HAS TWO DECIDEDLY DIFFERENT FAN BASES. He’s got those who are fond of his twisted, darkly comedic talents, which he has showcased in his years of stand-up and on the critically lauded, ratings-starved Fox show Arrested Development. And then, he has a younger, more wholesome group of fans, those who have seen Cross embrace his sillier side as the voice of Crane in Kung Fu Panda and as scheming Uncle Ian in the 2007 live-action Alvin and the Chipmunks flick (a role he’ll reprise in this December’s Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel).

This month, he’s aiming to reach fans somewhere in between with Year One, a comedy set in ancient times that is directed by Harold Ramis and stars Jack Black and Michael Cera. “It’s about two guys who are ostracized from their tribe,” Cross explains. “They journey across the mountains into the unknown and wind their way through some popular biblical stories.” Cross plays Cain, the infamous offspring of Adam and Eve who is constantly busting the chops of his brother Abel, played by Paul Rudd. When Cross is told that the first part of the description of Year One sounds like a remake of the dialogue-free caveman film Quest for Fire, he quips, “Yeah, but the language [in Year One] is better.”

Such a response is distinctively Cross. He’s incredibly sharp and quick-witted, not to mention well versed in even the most obscure TV and cinema history. The dichotomy of his personality, however, as well as that of his body of work, is hard to ignore. While it may seem like kid-friendly fare would be well out of the comfort zone of the man who expertly tackles programs like the warped 2006 MTV “kids’ show” Wonder Showzen and the upcoming pilot for the British comedy titled The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret, Cross insists there are simply several sides to his personality.

“I like to think that I’m a bit more complex than just always being cynical and skeptical,” he says. “Kung Fu Panda is for kids, and I actually enjoyed the movie. I like a good, interesting animated film that’s funny and -- and I don’t mean this in a pejorative way -- cute.”