Simon Baker: I want to work on films that are close to my heart
Simon Baker's directorial Breath is a coming-of-age film about two boys and surfing. The film was screened at the 24th Kolkata International Film Festival.
Written by Debasmita Das | Kolkata | Updated: November 15, 2018 Source
The Devil Wears Prada is where most of us may have first seen him, but what made actor Simon Baker a household name is the CBS TV series The Mentalist, in which he plays investigator Patrick Jane. Currently in Kolkata for the 24th Kolkata International Film Festival, where his debut directorial venture Breath is being screened, the Australian-American actor-director made time for a quick chat.
Breath is a coming-of-age film about two boys and surfing. Was it influenced by Simon’s own passion for surfing? “Of course! I was about 15 when I went surfing for the first time. And it makes sense for a first timer to deal with something he or she is familiar with. Besides, in Australia, we’re surrounded by the sea. At every step, it’s part of our growing up, so it’s natural that our films will be influenced by it. When I read Breath, I realised this was a world I knew,” he said.
So the film is personal? “Yes, extremely. My son has already begun surfing,” smiled Simon, adding that the experience of shooting underwater was challenging. “There are so many things you need to think of. And you can’t take a large crew down there. There are sharks, stones, so many other challenges.”
Perhaps the personal nature of the subject is also what has led Simon to act in his own film. “I know the character. And it suits me.” How is it that he hasn’t acted in a Hollywood production post The Devil Wears Prada? He said, “Look, I’m from Australia. My head is teeming with stories that need to be told. Like you, we have a culture of our own. I want to work on films that are my own, close to my heart, not someone else’s films.”
And how much of The Mentalist is Simon Baker? The actor said, “A lot. I’m very shy. It isn’t just the Mentalist, all the characters I play have a bit of me. But Patrick Jane is a lot of me.”Since Breath is a coming-of-age film, which other films would he place in this category? “Truffaut’s My Life is a Dog or Four Hundred Blows, Satyajit Ray’s Apu Trilogy,” Simon Baker said. And what about contemporary Indian filmmakers? He takes his time, and then settles on Mira Nair’s Kamasutra and Monsoon Wedding. As an afterthought, he adds Shekhar Kapur. And his impressions of Kolkata? “Ah, This is my first time here. And within 24 hours, I was facing what looked like 20,000 people (at the inauguration at Netaji Indoor Stadium)! And I love the food.”