Born in Launceston, Tasmania, Simon Baker has become a familiar face on our TV screens from his roles in The Guardian (2001-2004) and The Mentalist (2008-2015).

Back when he was known as Simon Baker Denny, the handsome actor won viewers’ hearts as Constable Sam on Aussie soap E Street (1993), winning the Logie for Best New Talent – and like many of our other talented exports, he also gained experience on Home and Away.

Relocating to Hollywood, Baker made his movie debut in L.A. Confidential (1997) and followed with steady work in films like George Romero’s Land of the Dead (2005), The Ring Two (2005) and The Devil Wears Prada (2006).

After seven seasons of The Mentalist, Baker returned to the movies, starring in, co-writing and directing an adaptation of Tim Winton’s best-selling novel Breath. A soulful coming-of-age tale set in coastal WA during the 1970s, the story follows two teenaged boys who are mentored by a former pro surfer named Sando (Baker).

“It had an immediately profound effect on me,” Baker says of first reading Winton’s novel. “Having grown up in a coastal town in Australia, and knowing the characters in the book, I was drawn in.”

Having directed episodes of The Mentalist and The Guardian, Baker felt comfortable in his dual role of director and actor. “It’s not easy and wouldn’t work for many roles; in this case, Sando is a character that I know, and have known for some time. I imagine that gave me some kind of advantage.

“Tim was incredibly gracious and supportive. He let me play with the material in my own way. I needed to know that he would be okay with that. He said something to me that was very simple but profound: ‘When I finish writing a book, it’s no longer mine, it belongs to whomever reads it’. That statement is something that will always stick with me.”