In the city of Chantilly, located 40 km from Paris, surrounded by art, horses and luxury, Longines rolled out the Blue Carpet to its new Ambassador of Elegance. Haute Living was invited to this prestigious event to interview Simon Baker about time, passions, filmmaking and ambitions.
“I think that Longines is a very well established company with a great heritage. They are more interested in making watches than making fashion, and I appreciate this authenticity.
(Paris, July 2012).— He doesn’t pretend to be a celebrity or a good actor, he doesn’t intend to be elegant, distinguished or smart, he doesn’t fake a smile or a certain look, he doesn’t make effort to be among people and have a good time, he doesn’t simulate being nice or a gentlemen, he doesn’t feign being happy with his life, he doesn’t pretend to be attractive, seductive and charming. Simon Baker just is all of the above at once, and it doesn’t give him too much work either, it’s just in his nature.
Simon Baker, a 42-year-old Australian actor, was officially introduced as Longines Ambassador of Elegance at the 163rd Prix de Diane Longines in the French town of Chantilly. This event is at once a mythic horse race and a tribute to elegance and style. Women should wear a hat and men must don a suit; these are the main rules to come to party at this gala. This year, around 44,000 spectators came to share their passion for horses. Champagne, a picnic and great weather were au rendez-vous to make this edition a marvelous celebration.
It is not difficult to understand why Longines chose Simon Baker to be its new Ambassador at the 180th anniversary of the brand. Simon is the epitome of elegance, and “elegance is an attitude”. He’s got it and it’s natural. It goes beyond his outfit or the car he drives. When you see him, you notice that. Haut Living met Simon during an exquisite gala dinner held at the Chateau de Chantilly, surrounded by one of the most important art collections in France. His good manners, gestures, confidence and comfort in the middle of such a place make him look like a real prince at his palace.
Simon explains to us that real values are based on legacy, family and passion. “I think that Longines is a very well established company with a great heritage. They are more interested in making watches than making fashion, and I appreciate this authenticity. Also, the family component is vital for the brand and for myself, so this connection with Longines fits me perfectly well. I feel proud and honored,” he says.
But even if he is a family guy, there is something he cannot stop: the reaction of the ladies is completely amazing. When you ask him about the reasons for so much enchantment, his answer is simple: “I do nothing in particular. Everything goes through the eyes of the one who looks”. But the truth is that he is handsome, and is perfectly aware of the fact.
Simon Jane or Patrick Baker?
We saw Simon Baker recently in films like Margin Call or The Killer Inside Me and he was nominated for the Golden Globes and Emmy Awards by his character, Patrick Jane, in the TV series The Mentalist.
The Australian actor is capable of showing textures and mutating into different characters in these movies. But if you are a fan of The Mentalist and you have the opportunity to meet Simon in person, you will find that there is something confusing about this man.
He loves being an actor and he can now participate in more intimate projects closer to the original ideal of cinema.
It is impossible to know if Simon Baker influences Patrick Jane or if Patrick Jane influences Simon Baker. The charm, the seduction, the sense of humor and the attention to detail, everything is there in the real Simon Baker. How is it possible? “I put a lot of myself in this character of Patrick Jane,” he says; something we can certainly confirm.
The success of this TV series has been huge. It is now entering its fourth season and has certainly opened plenty of doors up for Baker as an actor in the big industry of movie making.
Welcome To Freedom Of Choice
In today’s world, being a famous actor, having a stable relationship and 3 kids seems to be an immense challenge. Not without effort, Simon Baker has been in this commitment since 1993 and is very proud of the results. Stella, Claude and Harry are very proud of their dad and Simon’s 13 years of marriage to the former actress Rebecca Rigg are the proof of success, even if it hasn’t been easy. “Today to have a successful career as an actor is very difficult, especially when you have a family to support. Going from one project to another, not knowing when the next job is going to be… I have the feeling that is much more difficult these days than it was in the 90s. Today there are only like four guys who can do only the films they want to do. This is a luxury”.
To Simon, “it’s a difficult balance” protecting your family and being able to work on your art.
Fortunately, he has got to a position where he can make the choices. “Because of my TV series I have more opportunity to choose and I don’t necessarily have to do films to make my living… which I have done in the past. Now I am in a luxurious position,” he clarifies. The business element is present in his choices, but he cannot escape the fact that he loves what he does. He loves being an actor and he can now participate in more intimate projects closer to the original ideal of cinema. After a few years in the field, he is now in the right place, “the decision is most driven by my desire as an actor, what kind of roles do I want to play”.
Some actors spend their career waiting for the big film, the masterpiece that will immortalize their job. But Simon Baker is disarmingly modest and honest. “Maybe in my 20s I was expecting that, but as I get older I have learned to be more patient about what my path as an actor is, as a parent and as a businessman. When I was younger I was far more impatient. Now I am not necessarily waiting for the big film. There are great and beautiful small stories that deserve to be told”.
The movie industry has recently been looking to the past in a sort of nostalgic tribute to the old times of cinema. What is Simon Baker’s feeling regarding today’s film making? “I think there are two industries: the big studios that are making… let’s say one movie per year into which they put a lot of money, and it involves someone wearing a cape and a mask, like a cartoon character etc. These, as an actor, are very technical jobs and require a special type of acting. But precisely because of that there is a lot of room for more personal films. We can see today more small films getting the attention of the public. So it is not that bad to have these two possibilities. There have to be films for everybody,” he explains.
From Actor To Director
To Simon, it is a natural progression to pass from being in front of the camera to standing behind and, why not, direct his own project. “I have never really been an actor that just sits down, reads his book and then acts. I am always involved very much in the process, I like the experience of having an idea in your brain, a story that comes out of a page and you get to communicate it visually. The whole process is kind of magical. I’ve always enjoyed making things. I like the idea of working in a group of people, being part of a team. I love that”.
Baker enjoys photography; he has a classic Leica camera and seems to know how to create an image. He likes black and white -real photography- “you know, I am a very old fashioned guy. I don’t think of the results, I think more about the process. I prefer that everyone else judges the result when the job is done”. He takes photos of his family and travels. He doesn’t like to see himself on the screen; he prefers to see other people. So, does he suffer from the typical narcissism of a celebrity? No, he is not afflicted by that illness. He is a man who smiles with his eyes and sees life with the sincerity of a child. “To have a family makes you grow up and become a different person. It changes you,” and when you meet Simon you can say it is obvious that he is confident within himself. The man has everything he wanted and the only thing he expects from life is to remain healthy and happy with his family.