Perth was Sev­enth heaven for ac­tress

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Film - Tanya MacNaughton

AC­TOR Jenni Baird may have grown up in Syd­ney but the 2000 WAAPA grad­u­ate re­gards Perth “as the kind of place you imag­ine your per­fect child­hood to be”.

The mother of two re­turned for the first time in 15 years for Cine­festOz 2015 with hus­band and writer/di­rec­tor Michael Petroni and rem­i­nisced about liv­ing on Sev­enth Av­enue off Beau­fort Street and rid­ing her bike to cam­pus.

“My en­dur­ing mem­ory of Perth is that end­less, beau­ti­ful sum­mer heat with the big open skies,” Baird said.

“We used to sit out on the ve­randa in the evening and watch the night fall. The sky in Perth just seems big­ger and the streets wider.”

The cou­ple pre­sented the WA pre­miere of Petroni’s film Back­track in Bus­sel­ton, star­ring Baird, Adrien Brody and Sam Neill, which was a fi­nal­ist in this year’s Cine­festOZ $100,000 Film Prize.

They also at­tended the Satur­day night Gala, where Baird said she was ex­cited to wear her favourite WA de­signer Flan­nel and daz­zled in a floor-length mid­night blue lace gown with long sleeves on the red car­pet.

Baird de­scribed Back­track, filmed in Jan­uary, 2014, in Mel­bourne, Syd­ney and Car­coar, NSW, as a psy­cho­log­i­cal thriller with supernatural sus­pense in the tra­di­tion of Al­fred Hitch­cock.

De­spite steam­ing up the screen with Brody while play­ing his wife, Baird said Petroni was re­mark­ably calm and com­posed while di­rect­ing them on set.

“He’s not like that at all when he di­rects me for my au­di­tions, so I was brac­ing my­self but it was good in the end,” she said.

“I think I was so con­scious of be­ing true to what he’d writ­ten and mak­ing the pic­ture he wanted to see.

“When you’re mar­ried to a film­maker, you do feel like you’re giv­ing birth to a third child.”

Film­ing be­gan af­ter the sec­ond sea­son of A Place to Call Home, when Baird thought she would never play her char­ac­ter Regina Stan­dish again af­ter the show’s ax­ing by Chan­nel 7.

It has since been picked up by Fox­tel and the third sea­son will pre­miere Sun­day, Septem­ber 27.

“We thought the show was dead and gone; they’d chopped up the sets and sold off all the cos­tumes. To have it brought back to life was ex­tra­or­di­nary and I feel like I’m hit­ting my stride in sea­son three more than ever. It’s great play­ing such a vil­lain,” Baird said.

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