Translation by DSPallas for Simonize
Simon Baker: ‘ Living in France? No, fans keep asking me for my personal phone number! ‘ [size=2]
By Frank Rousseau, April 07th, 2013
Between two seasons of his TV series, Simon Baker, the charismatic hero of “The Mentalist” has performed in “Mariage à l’Anglaise” (I Give It a Year), a pretty slick comedy, which allows us to think that our nice Australian is going again to surf the wave of success.
Simon Baker, his marriage “à l’Anglaise”
His blonde and wavy hair reminds us of the sandy dunes from Tasmania where he was born. He is blind as a bat but, paradoxically, impersonates a detective able to spot the most microscopic of clues. Ironicaly, his surname is translated by ” bredmaker ” in French, and yet, in the TV show that made him famous all around the world, he hunts only butchers and bloodthirsty human beings. Not need to go any farther with this portrait. You’ve guessed it, we are talking about Simon Baker.
In Dan Mazer’s “Mariage à l’Anglaise”, you play the part of Guy, a kind of playboy who is going to do everything to seduce a married woman played by Rose Byrne (“Bridesmaids”, “Damages”). Question: To make a lady fall for you, what is the most efficient manner, according to you?
Do not calculate anything. Do not plan anything. Remain natural. Do not try to play a role. Allowing yourself to be seduced is not bad either. Leaving the initiative to the women is definitely a good thing. It brings a change. It’s refreshing. I think seduction also requires to be able to listen to the woman who is in front of you. Showing off too much is a serious weakness in my humble opinion. Now, if there are oysters and cheese soufflés on the table, you will maximize your chances! And last but not least, if you don’t ask the lady to pay the bill, it’s an undeniable bonus! (laughs)
People often say about you that you are one of the sexiest actors in the world. How do you perceive this simplistic representation of yourself?
You just said it, it is a simplistic representation. Listen, I am more than forty years old, I have three children and above all, I’m married. That means I am not on the market anymore! The “Sexy” word means nothing for me. It’s just a label stuck on the skin of actors and actresses to sell more newspapers. If only you knew how I just don’t pay attention to that! In the morning when I shave and I see my face in the mirror, I would rather say: “ Look at those rings! You look tired old boy! ” than “ What a heartbreaker! ” (laughs)
You met Rebecca, your wife, in 1992 then you got married in 1998. Since, happiness has brought a pattern to your couple. Is there a secret behind this long-lasting union? A recipe?
No! First of all, a desire. Then, an obvious bond between us. And at last, three children who have durably consolidated our relationship …
” Mariage à l’Anglaise ” is a “very” quirky romantic comedy. It’s also for you, Simon, an opportunity to temporarily park the DS of Patrick Jane aka “The Mentalist” and take a break from your investigations. It’s more than five years since you play the same character. In the long run, would there be a risk of him rubbing off on you?
I would like so much to give you a positive answer! It would be great to tell oneself that for an actor, playing a character only once, let’s say a chess champion for instance, would be enough to inherit his qualities and then give Kasparov a thrashing. Unfortunately, it does’nt work like that. Patrick Jane has no influence on me. Of course, he brought me a financial support and opened doors, but I have never asked him to search on my inner truth, to know what’s in me! I’m not talented for this kind of introspection! And then, I have a confession to make: the only things I try to focus on are the lines I must learn for “The Mentalist” and you know, this is already a tough job.
Simon Baker: his character
What are the main traits of character of Simon Baker?
I am an upright person. I like honesty. I do not love abusive people or people who take advantage of the weakest. I don’t beat around the bush. I am direct. When I compete with someone, I can be merciless. Mostly because I don’t like to lose. You can ask my wife, she could talk about it for hours and hours! Some say that my blood boils at the drop of a hat. Me, I’d rather say than I have temperament.
Is it true that when you direct an episode of “The Mentalist”, you can easily transform into Mister Hyde?
No! Not really. This said, I like to have control when I undertake something. I have an overview on things and I know perfectly what I want and what I expect from the others. In my opinion, the most important thing is the storyline. It always comes first. My job as a director, is to encourage everybody to be creative. I always listen when somebody comes to knock on my door to bring in new ideas. You know, competition is tough in the television or the film world. If you don’t jump on the bandwagon, it will leave without you! Finally, I would say that I am equally demanding with myself and with the others.
Filming in Paris: would it be a cheering prospect for you?
Of course! But it’s still necessary to find a believable reason to justify the coming of Patrick Jane in France. A motive that is not far-fetched. My dream would be to play opposite to Jean Paul Belmondo. My lifelong idol!
Did you ever planned to settle in the homeland of Voltaire?
France is full of exceptional surfing spots, this would be perfect! What I also like with French people is the way they distancing themselves from their job. In France, you work for a living, you don’t live to work! I also like French culture and gastronomy. With very simple products, you know how to make things that make my mouth water by simply talking about them. As a ham sandwich spreads with butter made with a very fresh baguette. Nothing’s better on Earth! Idem with soufflés. When we were in Paris with my wife last April, a French chef taught her how to cook them. On the other hand, I think if tomorrow, I ask my wife to move to France, at first she would be delighted, then on hindsight she would hesitate …
Oh really, why being reluctant?
Because the French fans occasionally ask for my personal phone number!
OK! You have something to write it down? It is 555… Err, damn, I forgot!
Simon Baker, soo to becoming French?
How much French do you know?
I know how to say “shit” and some basic words. I won’t go very far!
By the way, how an Australian becomes acclimated in the land of Barack Obama?
By never losing contact with my friends and my family. By choosing the real priorities. The first one being to escape the Hollywood circus when given the opportunity! Since four years now, I have an home in Australia. I go there with my family at least twice a year! I have three children and I want to make sure they do not lose their Australian culture. Therefore, I don’t want to force them neither. Just what’s needed so they keep a good mental health!
What do you miss the most since you live in Los angeles?
A very stupid thing, decent tea sets. Americans drink their tea in mugs, while in Australia, the tea ritual as it is religiously accomplished in England, is still very present in our culture. Personally, I like a civilized approach! Drink tea in a mug is almost like heresy! Like eating a tartlet while wearing mittens!
When you travel abroad, it’s always with wife and children in your luggage?
Yes! Whenever I can and when it matches with their school vacation. It’s important for my balance and important to my family, for it means that I am present. That I’m not just passing through. I grew up in a small town. Narrow minded. Very early, I told myself that if I had children, I would give them the opportunity to travel, open themselves to the others, see landscapes and people different from the ones they can see by looking through their bedroom window. That is my luxury! I can stay with them in New York, fly to Paris for the week end, via Rome or London. My children can live unbelievable experiences that I never knewn as a kid! My generation was a stay-at-home generation, after all. There were strong probabilities that you would be studying, working, building a family in the very same town where you were born! Today, if they want, my kids can study in Los angeles, in England or anywhere in the world. For them, the possibilities are endless.
In what kind of environment did you grew up as a child?
I did not grow up with money but with space. There’s a lot on the North coast of the New South Wales (Australia). When I was young, I had only one thing in mind, surfing the waves. The problem was, I didn’t even know how to swim! For my parents, it was out of question that I could buy myself a surfboard. I had to bring home at least a bronze medal in swimming first! So I took swimming lessons. In the meantime, I was playinga lot of cricket on Saturdays. To get the money for my surfboard, I collected returnable bottles of Coca Cola and sold them to a wholesaler! I was also selling flowers to the tourists by the road side. With the fifteen dollars I’d gathered, I was able to buy my first surfboard.
Simob Baker: His Hollywood debut
Do you remember your first contact with Hollywood?
Yes, it was with casting director Mali Finn. My impresario at the time kept insisting I met this woman of influence in Hollywood. When I met her she told me immediately “Kid, I want you to read this script.” And it was the “LA Confidential” script, the masterpiece of Curtis Hanson, based on the James Ellroy best-seller. Originally, she wanted me to audition for the role of Detective Edmund Jennings ‘Ed’ Exley. But Guy Pearce got the part. My disability, I think, was my Australian accent! It was so thick! So, I ended playing a smaller role. The one of Matt Reynolds. I think I was in an English pub, the King’s Head in Santa Monica, having lunch with my wife when I heard the news. I shouted a “Yeeahh” in the middle of the pub. Not very discrete, I agree. I shall not hide the fact that we had a big shindig afterward…
Between us, don’t you feel like playing the role of James Bond one day? You have the required class and stature…
But not the required passport, I’m Australian! First, they generally give the job to an English. Secondly, Daniel Craig owns the “license to kill” and I must admit that the spy costume suits him pretty well. Apart from that, I’ve always liked the 007 saga as well as films from the 60s and 70s. Like “The Thomas Crown Affair” or Hitchcock’s. Thrillers with some romance, a bit of cat-and-mouse game, that keep us excited from beginning to end. Typical of an era.
Have you already been told that you look like a young Michael Caine with your glasses on?
No! It’s the first time I’m told that. The toughest part for a poor-sighted on a set, is to not hit a camera!
Do you wear contact lenses?
No! And it’s better this way. When you look in the eyes of Patrick Jane, you think he is focusing, he is observing, but in fact it’s because I see only a blur!
But you’re not Mister Magoo?
Not yet, I still have some margin!