Siems Luckwaldt: Now you’ve been here, of course, at the race course last year. Did you bet?
Simon Baker: Yes.
Did you win?
Yeah, actually I think I came out about 5 Euro ahead. I’m not a big gambler.
I mean the exciting part is to have, what’s the term they use, skin in the game. Just a little.
That makes you care.
Not a whole caucus. Just a little bit of skin. Yeah. It just makes you care. Just makes it a little bit exciting. I like the interaction too, and the great thing about last year is where they had, in the tent that I was in, where you bet, you could also order a drink. So it was sort of a two for one.
Okay. Did you fall victim to that now?
No. No. Of course not.
You didn’t spend your own winnings on booze, did you?
Drinks were free for me.
Now were there people that given you a role on television on The Mentalist that ask you that you could tell them who would win?
Yeah, there was one or two. _____ (01:50). That wore a bit thin pretty quickly.
Okay. So you said, no, I’m not a medium. I’m just playing someone with abilities on TV.
_____ (01:57) interesting is that at the lunch, and you know the dinner last night, there’s a lot of people that are involved in the horse racing industry so you get a lot of tips, a lot of very varying tips, so it depends on who you listen to I guess. I’m sure some of them are going to be right and some of them aren’t.
So you’ll be betting today too?
Yeah. Absolutely. Every leaflet is in French, so it’s very hard to read, but it’s going to be a little more…I’d like to have a look at the horses. That’s a nice thing about going to the races. I don’t go to the races very often, and I like the sort of celebratory approach to it and the little sort of _____ (03:01) that you develop where the horses come out and they’re paraded around, and you get a little glimpse of the horses and the jockeys and the names and the girls and, you know, all of that sort of stuff, and then you make a decision and _____ (03:14). I’m not a big _____ (03:16).
So apparently you had a great time last year and you decided to come back this year. What is it you like about the horses in particular, because you told me about the girls and the drinks and the betting? What is it you like about the horses? _____ (03:32).
Well, I mean there’s nothing…it’s just something about horses full flight, whether it’s one horse or 10 horses. It goes through you, like it hits you. It’s exciting, you know. It’s really exciting. It’s sexier than that. _____ (03:59). It’s just a kind of a sexy, powerful…the idea of the horses…they’re such incredible animals, and these race horses are so finely tuned. So when they parade them around, you can see that they’re just on the edge and ready to go all the time. It’s probably sometime a little bit more like acting at times. You know? Sometimes. Not all the time. Sometimes acting can be quite dull and boring and waiting. The idea of all the preparation that’s gone into these horses for…a race lasts two minutes and it’s like a coiling spring in these horses, and then when they go, and the sound of their hooves on the grass is really exciting. And when you can be that close…I don’t know, do you go to the races?
And you get that sense of it and then when the big race comes and everyone sort of flocks down to the barrier to watch. I don’t know, it’s just…the effort that’s gone into the training of the horses, the preparation and the jockeys and the selection of the jockeys, and then just the effort that everyone puts in to dress up. Hats. I love seeing all the women with their hats. Where else do women wear hats anymore? That whole element of fashion is sort of non-existent unless it’s the horses.
Now do you ride yourself?
I wouldn’t say that I ride. I don’t ride regularly, but I can ride.
Did you grow up with horses?
I didn’t grow up with horses. I learned to ride on film sets. I was taught by a couple of different Hollywood wranglers that…the first guy I learned to ride with, his name is Rudy Ugland. He taught Marlon Brando to ride. He taught Steve McQueen to ride. He was a second generation wrangler. His father did all the John Ford westerns.
So you get the privilege of having to ride horses on film. You get the opportunity to spend a lot of time around horse wranglers, and they’re obviously very different to race horses. I’ve done a bunch of films where I’m riding horses, and then you go away and…I did a film once, an Ang Lee film called, Ride with the Devil, like the end of the 90s. I think it was like 98 or something. I’m getting old. Frightening. We shot for six months, but for four weeks leading up to it, I rode every day for three hours a day, and then for three weeks while on location, we had like a rehearsal period where as a company, we rode every day for three or four hours with jumping, and so we did most of our own stunts. Jumping. So I can ride a horse, and I’m quite comfortable just to sort of get on a horse, which is kind of incredible because as a kid I was horrified of them. They are very powerful.
So you don’t own a horse now?
I don’t own a horse, no.
What do you say about the whole atmosphere here? It’s elegance. It’s fashion. It’s beauty.
Well, an aesthetic. Whether that is an appreciation of a good experience and the effort that goes into that. The appreciation of that effort and that’s what I like about this race, ____ (09:09), this festival of racing. _____ (09:14), I just appreciate the amount of effort that everyone makes and whether you sort of succeed in being the belle of the ball or… I think the effort is appreciated by everyone and it’s, at the same time, it’s not really dwelled on, like everyone dresses up and then they go and have a great time, and it’s sort of dealt with it in that way. What my idea of elegance is, is really…it’s a balance of making an effort and being appreciative of what you have and what you don’t have and appreciating the effort that other people make as well.
Now these couple of days are all about time. What is your favorite way of wasting time if you have a chance to do so?
My favorite way of wasting time. I hate that word wasting. You know, my favorite way of doing it, it’s like sort of, I don’t know, I really like spending time with my kids. And whether that’s just something as ridiculous as sitting and watching some cartoons with them or playing basketball or going for a swim with them. Just to hang out with them and just be around them is my favorite way of spending loose, random time. Unorganized, free ____ (11:12) time.
You’ve got a good way to spend the waiting time during your films as well?
Good way of spending the waiting time? Well the internet has been a saviour for that.
Yeah. You can have sort of everything around so you can read. I like podcasts. I like podcasts.
Oh really? Do you have a favorite? Favorite genre?
This American Life is my favorite podcast. Yeah. I love it.
All right. Thank you so much for your time.