I Give it a Year
Simon Baker still has a few years left of playing the leading man, writes Neala Johnson
IT wasn’t the reaction Simon Baker was looking for, but the Australian actor had to admit it was true. Exiting a screening of his latest movie, British rom- com I Give It A Year, Baker’s 19- year- old daughter Stella turned to her father and said, “You can’t play the good- looking guy again, Dad”. “I know, you’re right,” Baker replied. “It’s too much pressure.” But at 43, it’s far too soon to call closing time on Baker’s ability to play the charmer. The ladies know he’s still got it.
In real life, he says the need to stay in some kind of leading- man shape matters “less and less”.
“It’s there, but I pay less and less attention to it. For me, more than anything as I get older, it’s about just feeling good.
“I like to try to stay reasonably fit just so I feel OK, so I can do whatever at the drop of a hat.
“I like to be active and I’ve got two boys that are just getting into teenage years so they’re like, ‘ Dad let’s do this, let’s go!’, and I’m the guy hobbling behind nursing a sore knee, hip or shoulder.”
Amid the rush of Aussie actors doing big things internationally, Baker, who has lived and worked in LA since the mid-’ 90s is one of the most consistently successful.
He’s onto the fi fth season of his worldwide hit TV series The Mentalist and, between seasons, is adding increasingly interesting fi lm roles to his resume ( such as the 2011 indie fi nancial meltdown drama Margin Call).
I Give It A Year may appear to live in the same realm as one of his past movies, the Anne Hathaway hit The Devil Wears Prada, but that’s just an illusion.
“It is dressed up to look like it’s in the same realm, but it’s a twist on it,” Baker says.
Shot in the UK last summer, I Give It A Year centres on a couple Josh ( Rafe Spall) and Nat ( Rose Byrne) who get married too quickly.
There are clearly better matches for this pair out there, such as Josh’s ex, Chloe ( Anna Faris) and the spunky and suave new American client at Nat’s ad agency, Guy ( Baker).
And their oddball mates ( played by the likes of Minnie Driver and Stephen Merchant) are anything but helpful.
It’s a rom- com leading towards an inevitable grand romantic break- up, rather than the usual grand romantic reunion.
“It ticks all the boxes of the cliches in a romantic comedy, but it fl ips them on their ear,” says Baker.
“My character is initially set up as the tasteless, loud, obnoxious Yank, yet he’s probably the most sophisticated and civilized of the lot. It’s nice to see that fl ipped.”
Fellow Aussie Byrne has said of her co- star Baker that he “walks a fi ne line between arrogance and charm” in the movie.
Baker admits that line can be “a bit tricky”, but adds that playing an American makes all the difference.
“When Rafe’s character says to Guy, ‘ You’re so good looking’, I wanted him to go, ‘ Thanks’ to accept the compliment.
“It’s not a very Australian thing to do – it’s more American to say ‘ thank you’ when someone compliments you, no matter how deserved it is,” Baker laughs.
Whereas, in real life, when someone tells Baker how handsome he is?
“I normally just get really embarrassed and feel very self- conscious, and wish they’d shut up,” he says.
“The last thing I want to do in a conversation is have all the attention put straight on to me and particularly on to something as facile as how I look.”
I Give It A Year offers up the notion that if a couple can make it through the fi rst year of marriage, they can get through anything.
“Ah, I don’t think it’s as easy as that,” Baker laughs.
How many years have he and wife Rebecca Rigg made it to now?
“Yeah, that’s what it’s like, isn’t it? ‘ How many years have you made it to?’ That’s calling the glass half- empty, isn’t it?” he laughs again.
“We’ve been married for ... I think about 16- 17 years. I mean, after a certain point you kind of stop counting.”
I GIVE IT A YEAR
Now showing Village Cinemas