Simon Baker has been a Longines ambassador for seven years, now. With his cute, blonde curls, broad smile and great sense of humor, the Australian star of ‘The Mentalist’ is the perfect personification of the elegance with which the Swiss watch brand is associated. We could experience that ourselves during the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup Final in Barcelona where Simon Baker revealed his recipe for a long and happy marriage.
Text Anja Van Der Borght
Pictures WOWwatchers.com, Longines en Achim Steenhaut
With a firm handshake and a broad smile, Simon Baker welcomes us in Barcelona. “Sorry for my English,” I say. “Well, I’m sorry for mine,” Simon Baker replies. The tone is set.
What is the first thing you do in the morning?
Simon Baker: “I have a drink of (plain) water. Sometimes a lemon juice. Sometimes I meditate.”
Are you afraid of time passing?
Simon Baker: “Getting old you mean? Yes, there are things I could do when I was young(er). Now I say to myself, I should have done more of that… at the time! They are mainly related to physical things. Because that’s getting a bit harder when you get older. It is not too bad yet, you know… but I feel some pains in different places, indicating that I did a bit too much in some instances. It is less about time going by, it is more about the things you want to do…”
We asked Simon Baker to choose between :
Ferrari or Porsche?
Simon Baker: “I am not really a car person.”
Boxer short or underpants?
Simon Baker: “Depending on what I’m feeling, at night, boxer shorts.
Blondes or brunettes?
Simon Baker: “Hm…”
Sneakers or classic shoes?
Simon Baker: “Depends again on what I’m wearing, what I’ve done.”
Adventure trip like Kenya or city trip?
Simon Baker: “Can I have both… one makes the other even better, right?”
So what do you dream of? Like what do you really want to do in the future?
Simon Baker: “It is less about what it is that I want to do, it is more about how I am going to feel when I am doing it. You can do great things, but not enjoy what it is that you are doing, because of some other anxiety related to it. Then in hindsight you look back and you say to yourself, well what I did there was really great, but I was so tense and so anxious and uptight about it, that I didn’t enjoy what it was. So actually I want to do a thing which I enjoy and indeed feel the relaxing process of doing it. So it is more about adjusting my own philosophical approach to the thing(s) which I am doing. Just let go of the guilt “I should rather be doing this or that”, and enjoy what you are doing there. Be more in the moment and just accepting that moment. Do not let any outside pressure come in.”
Can you say that you live the life that you dreamt of?
Simon Baker: “No, because I never dreamt any of this… I am living so outside of that. Every day I live in a situation which is almost surreal. When I grew up, I didn’t have a dream this big. So I’m improvising. And I really just try to enjoy each of those moments. My general approach is just to simplify everything back to just the basis of connection, whatever those connections are. Because as a person I can feel comfortable and safe in that. When I look at you, you look, I talk, you talk, you communicate, and there is an honest communication backwards and forwards, that’s simple, and as a human being, I can understand and relate to that, because that is just in me, innately. And I think that’s in all of us, innately. So that’s how I work. In a way, I work back to that point, all the time.”
At what moment in your life you thought, I want to be an actor?
Simon Baker: “I think it was pretty early on, when I understood the notion of performance; I grew up in a very idyllic place, but I didn’t grow up in the best family circumstances. The good thing is that I understood the release of humour in those situations, and the importance of performance, to help get through certain situations. I guess unconsciously it grew, but also my relationship with my mother developed, in my early teens, with watching films. Then when I first started seeing films, I thought, I like to do this. I remember specifically what it was, that was potent to me: that you could watch a film, and understand what a character was thinking, feeling, just through actions and behaviour, and not necessarily through dialogue, or being told, as when you read a story, it’s been told to you. But when you are watching a film, you are experiencing the behaviour of that character, connecting with that character, in your own way. I found that incredibly powerful, watching a person on a screen go through what they are going through, and this could speak to me in a really potent way. In those moments, and this happened to me more in a cinema, because there is more intimacy in a cinema then on a TV screen, it is comparatively more immersive, I thought, I like to be able to connect, through and with people, in that way.”
Simon Baker: “But – and I want to stress this – I have not given up the idea of having time just to do nothing. Even if it is in small periods, it really is important to me.”
What projects are you working on today?
Simon Baker: I am working on two different projects, for different films I am going to direct, both in Australia. I will also do a feature film on quite a well known Australian artist, called Del Kathryn Barton. She has made a couple of short films, and the new ones is a very interesting, quite a powerful story about a twelve year old girl who witnesses a rape. I will play her father and it’s her journey. It will be quite an avant garde piece of cinema. That’s the next thing I will do as an actor, but at the moment I am in the process of developing stuff to work as a director. However I don’t want to work too much at the moment, because I have got my youngest kid left at home, and he’s one year left to school. I made a commitment to myself and him to be around as a father as much as possible for this last year. A lot of the work offered to me comes from America, but I live in Australia for the moment, and I would also like to work in Europe, because deep down, I have more a European sensibility. But I achieved success in America…”
Do you regret not having been there more for your other children?
Simon Baker: “It is not about regret so much, it is more a combination of just like time. Time is moving in a direction for me and them, I have got three kids, and in a year, we will be moving to empty nesters. So what does that mean? Now I have only got this much time, let’s make the most of it. Once that’s gone, it’s gone, and things will be different. I know that it’s finite.”
Talking about time, I heard you like to be on time?
Simon Baker: “I indeed like to be on time, I even like to be ready, ideally 5 minutes before, I want to focus and prepare myself.”
What do you do in these five minutes before? You watch your text messages, your social media, …
Simon Baker: “Sometimes I just think about why I am there, it just depends. If there are things I just have to deal with, and that is just the benefit on these (smartphone) instruments, if I’m waiting for someone and I have three or more things to do, and if I can do them in that period of time, and then I can free myself of having to do these matters afterwards, it is useful. But it is always a compromise, isn’t it. You do it now or later. But – and I want to stress this – I have not given up the idea of having time just to do nothing. Even if it is in small periods, it really is important to me.”
Simon Baker: “No one is everything to another person. Understanding that and accepting is one thing, but also knowing that it can all fall apart the next week. You are together because you want to be together. Now, we will see what it’s like tomorrow.”
You collect watches?
Simon Baker: “I do now, whether you like it or not.”
Do you consider your watches objects that you would pass on to next generations?
Simon Baker: “Absolutely.”
You do a lot of sports; do you wear a watch when you are surfing for example?
Simon Baker: “Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t. It depends.”
With a NATO or metal strap? Now you are wearing a rubber strap… ?
Simon Baker: “Well this HydroConquest from Longines I will probably wear because it is a beautiful watch, and it is really suited to the water. The other HydroConquest watch I always surf with has a steel strap.”
And the steel strap doesn’t bother you?
Simon Baker: “No, not really. I live right near the beach in Sydney, and if I have to be on time somewhere after the surf session, I will wear a watch. Otherwise, I don’t… because I don’t want to have any limitation while surfing; I just want to go…”
You love horse riding?
Simon Baker: “I love horses, as an animal. They are incredible. They are just beautiful, powerful creatures. The experience of riding them is unique, I had the great fortune many years ago to have to ride a horse in a film, and my relationship with horses started there. Because I had four weeks of riding every day and when we shot the film for three months we were riding every day as well, I developed a relationship with the horse, which is really potent. It is really hard to articulate, it develops when you are ON the horse, it is a visceral thing, it is through feel. The horse can tune in how you feel, and you feel the tension in the horse through your body. And there is something really potent about that which is exiting to me. Tonight will be very interesting to me, because I have never been to a show jumping event. I have jumped horses, just for films, and I understand, with an animal as big as a horse, rhythmically, how precise and in sync the rider and the horse have to be. You reduce the steps, so that the horse shortens it steps before the jump, goes from left to right foot, all this is incredibly detailed, and so many hours of practice and training and then you (both) just belief and feel… it is like golf, you practice hitting the ball, you think, you think, but then when you actually do it, you just let go and just feel. That’s what these sport people have to do, these riders have to do during these events, with their horse. Just believe and feel. That’s incredible. That’s so powerful.”
What is your mission in life?
Simon Baker: “I think just to get through without too much carnage… also to yourself. You can inflict harm to yourself too.”
Would you like your children to go in your footsteps?
Simon Baker: “I want my kids to run their own race… It’s a cliché, I want my kids to be happy. If one wants to be a plumber, I want him to be the happiest plumber that there is. If one wants to be a poet, I want him to be the happiest poet that there is. If there is a miserable poet, I want him to be the happiest miserable poet that there is. I want him to be happy with himself, that’s the most important relationship, isn’t it?”
You are married for a long time with your wife, what are the keys to a successful marriage?
Simon Baker: “Adventure. It is more kind of a mindset. Because adventure is often the way you face challenges. Because any relationship is not without many, many challenges. You never get to a place where you say, oh, this is good, now it’s easy, because soon as you are there, it is like termites you know, soon as you look at the foundations, things start to collapse again. So it’s never taking those moments for granted. And I think the truth is that having kids feeds just so much more into your relationship. It takes the focus and the attention from just the two of you towards now a united goal which is just raising these kids. There are no keys. I think you do it because you want to do it. A lot of friends around my age are divorced, and sometimes their relationship is better once they are separated. But I don’t want to be held as a sort of yardstick at all as the successful married guy, as there is always pressure on a relationship. Because of that kind of pressure, every relationship is challenging and difficult, and no one is everything to another person. Understanding that and accepting is one thing, but also knowing that it can all fall apart the next week. You are together because you want to be together, now. We will see what it’s like tomorrow.”