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Simon Baker, 'The Mentalist' Star, Steps Behind The Camera

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Simon Baker has been starring in the hit CBS show "The Mentalist' since 2008 and he recently stepped behind the camera to direct the episode that airs Thursday night. The former brickie (that would be brick layer in Australian slang) chatted with HuffPost Celebrity about directing himself and the Australian work ethic.

You directed the episode airing this week. Is that in your contract?
No, it's not, but it's definitely something that's a natural progression or repression, I don't know. You know, it's a way to be creatively invested, I guess, and sort of keep challenging myself.

Is it weird to direct yourself?
There's definitely a weird element to acting and directing at the same time, especially when you're acting with someone else. I think it's probably weirder for them because they know I'm in the scene acting, but there's also an element as a director where I'm watching them as well.

So this is a nice deal, being on a primetime network show.
As far as job security, it's good for now because I come from a working class background -- which is about job security and being a provider. So the balance is between being someone creative and wanting to contribute as an artist, but also the balance of commerce, which is being a parent and husband and providing for them.

What do you think you'll be doing in 10 years?
The TV thing is interesting, because obviously I'm known more for TV, partly because more people have seen the TV I've done, but I have done a lot of films over the years. TV has just worked out. It's so competitive now and the standard is getting so high. In a sense, we make 24 little movies a year. It's sort of like film school and I'm interested in learning all the different elements of it.

You were born in Australia, unlike all the other "Australian" actors, like Guy Pearce and Russell Crowe, who weren't even born there.
I don't get that competitive about being Australian! It's funny because my two sons were born here in the States, but if you ask them if they're more Australian or American, they'd say more Australian, whereas my daughter -- who was born in Australia -- would probably say she's more American.

Why do so many Aussies do well over here in TV and movies?
I think you can put a lot of it down to a lack of entitlement and a work ethic. It's culturally intrinsic, the idea of working hard and doing your best and not being full of yourself. There's a big thing to be said for not being entitled. That's the one thing I notice often with a lot of younger actors -- a sense of entitlement. I get a bit worried about it. It's the one thing that makes me feel old. It makes me say, "Now we weren't like that." If I was given an opportunity, I always felt like I had to prove myself and work really hard for nothing. Not everyone gets the opportunity, so you've got to prove that you're the right person for the job. Seems a little bit different these days.

Guilty pleasure?
It's hard. I'm an actor and we're supposed to be thin and good looking. I'd say beer and ice-cream, but not necessarily together. I do love a nice icy cold beer in a frozen glass.

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