Translation of Die Welt article – Simon Baker

THOROUGHBREDS AND HATS JOIN THE RACE

The horse racing season was opened with expensive horses and crazy hats – but the real star of the Prix Diane at Chantilly was the “The Mentalist”.
(article by lifestyle journalist Siems Luckwaltdt)

“As a child I was terrified of horses” he confesses to me in the morning interview. A certain respect is still there, but in the meantime the Australian actor Simon Baker feels secure in the saddle.

After all, he was trained 4 hours a day for a film by the legendary Rudy Ugland a couple of years ago. And Ugland has taught the likes of Marlon Brando, Mel Gibson or Jack Nicholson to gallop through western settings.

“These incredible powerful animals are full of energy and are constantly under current. They are incredibly sexy” gushes Baker.

It is a pity that the star of the hit series “The Mentalist” is spared an appearance on horseback today. Instead, professional jockeys (category below 60 kilos) risk their necks in nine races. With up to 70km/h these “little big men” in their brightly coloured jerseys dash around the course of the traditional Hippodrome of Chantilly for the “Prix de Diane Longines”.

The grass that’s shining in the sunlight absorbs the thundering hoofbeats.

But if you come close to the rails of the barrier you can hear the thoroughbreds wheezing.

Only for a second, and then the aerodynamic man-horse hybrids race on towards the finish line of the two-kilometre course.

During such moments, even the guests in the VIP tent of the sponsor Longines forget to sip from their champagne flutes.

The owners of the horses and those placing bets on them stare motionless through their binoculars. Fathers hold on firmly to their kids, who are watching from their shoulders.

Even Simon Baker, appointed “ambassador of elegance” by the Swiss watch brand Longines, loses sight of his fans for a moment.

The beau with the surfer complexion, who has lent his face to the current campaign of Givenchy’s perfume “Gentlemen only”, is here for the second consecutive year, as the star guest in France’s horse capital, however, he remains calm.

The son of a teacher and a caretaker has long been accustomed to this VIP treatment.

Afterwards, when jockey Thierry Jarnet on his horse “Treve” has won the prix de Diane Longines with a new track record and about 570.000 Euros prize money, the dream of all the elegantly clothed teenage girls comes true.

“The Mentalist” casually walks a couple of hundred metres around the track, which was opened in 1834, and waves in the direction of the grandstand and the picnic blankets (crusty baguettes, chilled champagne and sometimes a noodle salad). Then, the “Baker Mania” begins. Everyone is running towards him, keeping their smartphones ready, digicams in position, programmes and felt tip pens within reach. No one is even looking at the breathless winner of the highly paid fourth race, who – on a giant screen – can be seen so euphoric, he is lost for words. Instead, the only thing you hear all around is “Siiiiimon”.

It is this mixture of stylish folk-festival for everyone, a test of strength for the people in the horse circuit and a well-tempered thrill together with equally tempered gourmet dishes, which make this afternoon in Chantilly a short trip to another world. Especially for someone like me who has never read “Wendy” or “Billie and Zottel” (children’s comics/row of books about horses, aimed mainly at girls). There is no stiff small talk here, no sign saying “Rich people only”. It is simply wonderful here!

“Elegance is a balance between the effort that you yourself put into your appearance and the appreciation of others for your effort”. – that is how Simon Baker explains his rule of style. This fits the fashion highlight of the day: the hats. Whether there are plastic horses on them or QR codes on the wide brims, silk flower potpourris or brightly coloured fascinators, daring static designs like a protruding Eiffel Tower or creations of conservative fashion designers in pale pink.

From time to time I react to a new gigantic headdress “monster” seen from the corner of my eye, some brightly yellow buildings made from woven straw, wrapped fabric or papier maché Some men caught my attention by wearing Panama models, a boater, a burgundy top hat and a brightly coloured fedora, which was bought on location. Connoisseurs come naturally prepared. In the Longines sponsors tent, a rose model worn by a lady dressed in Chanel, was awarded with a watch. Whether it was the latest model of the “Conquest Classic” – series? Oh, never mind, I’ll just take another pistachio macaroon.

Now back to the ladies´ favourite, Simon Baker. Asked if he has ever seen an episode of his successful TV series? – in a mixture of French, English and Swiss-German, the wonderfully eccentric President of Longines, Walter von Känel, answered: “ I had to. My co-workers have been out of their minds because of this man for weeks!” And how did he like the crime show about an ex-medium? “It is like making a good mayonnaise. It takes time”.

With plain language and the military virtues of his army days (which he ended as a brigadier), von Känel has turned Longines into the leading brand of top-priced watches, with prices between 600 and 3500 Euros. There are also some more expensive versions in the repertoire. “Keep it stupid simple” – is an important motto for his story of success. Combined with his understanding of human nature, concentration on a core business and his vision of his brand. La mission est atteinte! (The mission is achieved).

The racing course of the Hippodrome is particularly appealing: in the background you can always see the castle, which was built by the Montmorency family in 1560. And above the stately park with its water canals, fountains, symmetrical flowerbeds, a gigantic fireworks lit up the sky the night before. As a crowning finale of the dinner at the fine painting room of the museum Conté, which is located in the castle. It contains the second largest collection of paintings after the Louvre. During the gala dinner, you feel as if cherubs, equestrian companies and scarcely clad ladies look down on the guests’ plates from their golden frames.

After lobster, there is veal filets, followed by red fruits for dessert, which are decorated with a (sugar) hat. Simon Baker had two of the winning ladies of the first Longines Award at his table: the enchanting Sophie Thalmann – a presenter, Miss France 1996, and married to a jockey- as well as the very modest Princess Aga Khan. That evening, Baker, who last year left the event with a winning sum of 5 Euros (!), asked both ladies for inside tips for the race of the following day.

The third prize winner, show jumping champion Athina Onassis de Miranda. was only present via video message, because she was away on a tournament.

Checking out at the reception desk of his hotel, Simon Baker is wearing his self-tinting glasses, a checkered shirt, worn outside of his jeans, and a worn leather briefcase over his shoulder. “How´ya going, mate?. The Australian is shining through now. And before my inner eye I can see Longines´ ambassador of elegance, running along the beach with his kids or throwing basket balls in front of his garage. “G’day”.

Translation of German Elle Magazine article

I don’t know who did the translation but it can be found on Fran’s site. Thanks to both.

 

INSTYLE MAGAZINE (German Edition, May 2013)
HERE COMES SIMON
The actor Simon Baker (‘The Mentalist’) talks about his happy family, his style of parenting and his style of clothes
Paris, Rue de Varenne: Through a nondescript entrance next to an antiques store, we enter into a hidden courtyard. Just a tiny sign next to the entrance tells us that the launch of the “Gentleman only” fragrance by Givenchy will take place here. The face of the campaign is the Australian actor Simon Baker, who, in his anthracite-grey suit, looks like a perfect gentleman today.
“After you, Miss”, he says, while he holds the door to the room, where the interview is going to take place, open for me. “I’m sorry, but I see that my wife has already tried to call me on my mobile three times. I should call her back quickly, is that o.k.? Or does that take time off your interview? Then I’ll call back later, no problem,”
How kind of you (to turn your phone off). I hope your wife doesn’t get mad if you don’t call her back?
No, she is very liberal about it. Sure, when I travel she wants to know if I’ve landed safely, but she is no control freak – if that’s what it sounds like (laughs).
You’ve been married to actress Rebecca Rigg for 15 years – and completely without any scandals. That’s quite unusual for Hollywood standards, isn’t it….
Yes, and I consider myself very lucky.
What’s your secret?
Trust is the most important thing. But every relationship is also hard work. You should never take anything for granted.
It’s not just your marriage, your family life seems pretty perfect, too, You have three kids, Stella (19), Claude (14) and Harry (11). Are you a cool dad?
Well, to be honest, I have rather old-fashioned values, but at the same time I am very tolerant. It is important to balance these two sides. My parenting style is hard, but fair. When one of my kids has a good argument, why he or she wants me to allow something that I had previously forbidden, then I’m not so strict that I wouldn’t reconsider my former decision.
How would you describe a typical day of your family life?
Unfortunately, I don’t have very much free time, but if I do, I like to go to a restaurant with my wife and spend time with my kids. We do a lot of sports together, and often go to the beach. When I was a child, I always used to go surfing, and I still love to do that today. I sometimes feel quite old in between all these kids, but I still enjoy doing it! Especially my youngest son, Harry, likes to go surfing with me. In the beginning, he thought surfing was stupid, and only came along for my sake, but nowadays, he thinks it’s quite cool. (Yawns) Oh, sorry about that, I am rather tired…
You seem to have jetlag?
Unfortunately, yes. I’ve only arrived from Los Angeles yesterday afternoon. So for me, it is actually 7 o’clock in the morning!
What do you usually do on long flights?
That depends on where I’m going and why. On the flight here I’ve tried sleeping as much as possible, in order to be fit today. When I’m going back to Australia tomorrow, I will have two weeks off. So on that flight I’m going to relax, drink some wine, watch films, read (at the moment I’m reading “Skios” by Michael Frayn). I’m really ready for a holiday!
Well you certainly don’t look like it. In your suit today you look rather similar to Patrick Jane, the Mentalist from the successful TV series. How do you like his style of clothing?
Very much. Suits are his trademark. I love wearing suits myself, for example, those by Givenchy. They seem to fit me astonishingly well. With other suits I often have the problem that I have to have the jackets changed to fit my wider shoulders and the pants have to be made tighter at the hips.
Better than the other way round….
Ha ha, you’re right, that is definitely better than narrow shoulders and wide hips!
How many suits do you have in your closet?
Quite a lot. But I often give some of them away. Most of my friends never even go to a store, but they come directly to me and say: “Hey, Simon, I need a suit for this or that occasion, can I have one of yours?”
Is “Gentlemen only” a fragrance that you would only wear with an elegant suit, or is it an “every-day” perfume?
I think it is a fragrance that can be worn every day. For my part, I pay attention not to wear too much of it. I don’t like it if a man smells too much of perfume.
In your opinion, what makes a gentleman?
It is someone who is always on time, looks a woman in the eyes when he talks to her, offers her his umbrella when it’s raining and – now that you mention it – of course he always calls his wife back immediately.

Aside

Another translation by DSPallas on Simonize

SIMON BAKER. THE PERFECT MAN

The actor of “The Mentalist” has everything for him  : handsome, faithful, cool. Our reporter couldn’t resist.

Simon Baker doesn’t care about Hollywood clichés. No way for him to pose by the pool, he rather prefers to get his feet wet…

The hero of the successful top TV show « The Mentalist » makes a detour via the movie world. Already spot in « The devil wears Prada », and in « Margin Call », he’s part of the cast of the rom-com « I Give It A Year » (out in April 10th), where he plays the role of a seducer.
At 43, he’s an atypical star : born in Tasmania, far from Hollywood, he met success late in his career, after years of minor roles. Another distinguishing features : he’s in love with his wife, Rebecca, for more than twenty years now, and had three children with her. Neither diva nor megalomaniac, rather embarassed by the popular fervour he has generated, this surfer managed to keep his feet on the ground. His challenge : « To remain normal ».

“He is the most beautiful man I’ve ever seen !» A cry from the heart from his british movie director, Dan Mazer, who is however not exactly a beginner. « He’s beautiful without any effort. Easy… For instance, his hair : We were shooting very early in the morning… Gee, he wakes up with his hair already dressed! How can you be so beautiful? Unbelievable. » Simon Baker is not aware of it, he notices: « He has no self-importance ; He’s nice with everybody, very polite, attentive. »

During an outdoor filming, the others actors were champing at their bit, Dan Mazer tells: «  It was Elvis and the Beatles all into one! The old, the young people, men, women, it was all about him! It was impossible to shoot! This guy is dynamite!  ». And however lacking in self-confidence, he always needs to be reassured: «  He’s been nervous during some scenes. “I am not funny, what are you going to do ?” he said to me, worried. Wich added to his charm, and to his charachter’s. This actor does not know his talent. So I encouraged him: “Go on! Let yourself go !” And he did.  »

For a photo session, no way for him to play the clown as his colleagues. Need to say that in “I Give It a Year”, an off-the-wall comedy, subtlety isn’t an option. With the very elegant Simon Baker, Mazer plays with contrast, without forcing it. In the film, Baker the gentleman throws some stunned looks which make us burst out laughing. A straight comedian, a bit like in the Hugh Grant style. «  He’s a refined man, who appreciates good restaurants, good wines. Me, I’m rather the hamburger-Coca Light type. »

The actor tried to pass on him his aesthete’s hedonism. They went out with family for gourmet trips in the British countryside, or hoped in the Eurostar to visit Paris, its wine bars and its museums. The ex-actress Rebecca, Australian as Simon, would showed up with their three children, Stella (born in 1993), Claude (1998) and Harry (2001). Mazer: « They are very nice. Simon took them to a cricket match, to a film festival in the Southwest of England… »

When we met him, on this freezing English day, Baker is warm-hearted, smiling. He kisses you “à la Française” (TN: In France, we kiss people on both cheek to say hello, we don’t hug), takes you by the arm to sit you in front of him, across a small table. He offers you to pick at his plate full of fresh fruits pieces. But he may have had a go at a comic role here, no way, for a photo session, to play the clown as his colleagues.

It’s not because the Americans have arbitrarily awarded him recently with the “Sexiest man” trophy, no: this “Mentalist” is a disarming shy man. Not necessarily the one best placed to talk about himself.

How does it feel to suddenly epitomize the romantic ideal for the American people? Your wife must have moderatly enjoyed it…

Simon Baker : Rebecca ? She doesn’t care. No, it doesn’t change anything. I’m not so much conscious of all this stuff…

Good father, faithful husband… You are a perfect man!

Oh no ! Not at all ! I’m human. And if success didn’t change me, it’s because I’m not 20 anymore. I’m realistic, I’ve the experience of life. Besides, I needed this time to mature.

43, the best age of your life ?

Yes, probably. It was not four years ago, in any case, when I started « The Mentalist ».

Do you feel tired ?

I’m always a bit tired…

Tired of filming « The Mentalist » with this frantic pace of twelve hours a day?

Yes, a bit of this but… Life wears you out. Being always busy, being successful, managing this success, being even more busy, overwhelmed… It’s a spiral that tires me out. And I don’t get any younger !

Growing old is not a problem for you…

Yes, growing older is a problem. For me, it’s not easy ; It’s a concern.

Are you anxious?

Very anxious. As I’ve a lot of energy, I give my all, and I wear myself out.

For testing your stamina?

Yes, no… well I’ve never been very confident. I’m hard on myself, never happy with my performances. I have doubts. I always ask myself if what I’ve done couldn’t have been better. It’s a constant concern for me. If I was a mathematician or an accountant, it would be clear : it’s right or wrong, full stop. In my so subjective job, there’s not right or wrong.

There is critics.

Yes, dreadful. You’re always under the microscope of others.

Does it wear you out?

Sometimes. At my age and with my experience, it affects me less than before. Before, it has disturbed my balance.

Does your wife, Rebecca, who was an actress too, help you to overcome your fears?

Yes, she understands me, it helps. She comforts me, but she tells me when I ‘ve been bad. She’s my wife !

How do you two fight against routine after so many years?

With projects and challenges. It’s not conscious, but we always set ourself challenges. We move forward together, we boost each other.

The action is not equally divided between you. Rebecca can be frustrated…

That’s the challenge ! We have to deal with it.

Is it true that Naomi Watts and Nicole Kidman are the godmothers of two of your children?

Yes. It was before they became famous. Rebecca was in school with Nicole. And when I met my wife, her best friend was Naomi. It’s a real friendship, not a Hollywoodian acquaintance. We are close. There’s nothing artificial or opportunistic.

Living for several years now among Americans without complexes and so self-confident, did it change you?

It had an effect on me. Americans assume their ambition, whereas in Australia, we hide it. In the USA, I’m seen as a guy lacking in ambition. But it’s okay.

But you went in Hollywood to achieve success, to build a carreer…

I worked for five years in my home country, but there were not many opportunities. I just wanted to make a living. And then I got this fantastic offer with « LA Confidential ». It launched my career. After that, I took other things that I should have declined, but I had a family to support. I had a kid.

Your wife was working too?

Yes. But after our second child, we came to an agreement : she stopped.

Did you learn to talk money and fees with producers like a real American?

No, I’ve never been good at that. Well, little by little, I found out about the value of an actor.

You are in a growth niche, the « charm » target, wich attracts a wide audience. You bring big money!

I would never have dared to say such a thing ! I would have been too embarassed… And the French, how do they do ?

They too, are embarassed to talk about money.

To the point of paying their taxes abroad !

… And you, are you happy to pay your taxes in the US?

Yes. I’m not an american citizen, but it seems fair.

What do your parents say about your career?

To me, they don’t say much! But I believe that they are proud, even if they are not particularly demonstrative. They are australians!

Does Stella, our 20 years old daughter, want to follow in your footsteps?

I don’t think so. She is seriously studying in College. I was a bad student, very distracted.

Have you experienced amorous temptations while shooting your films?

No, I’ve not experienced that.

To be attracted to your co-star, you’ve never experienced that?

It happened… But cinema is all playacting!

You seem not very fond of the waves of enthusiasm that your success generates…

Yes, it’s embarassing. People don’t act naturally in front of me. I feel they are overexcited, uncomfortable. They listen to all I say, they stare at me. I must be careful.

You are intimidating.

But I don’t want to be! I want to remain normal!

So you don’t go out in public places anymore?

Yeah yeah I go out, I have a normal life. I go to the restaurant, I don’t want my little fame to affect my daily way of life.

Do you work on any form of spirituality?

Yes, I meditate several times a week, when I feel tired out. I force myself to stop, I go into myself. I meditate. I have learned. Now, I can do it on my own.