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Simon Baker Explains Why You Haven't Seen Him In Much Since The Mentalist Was Cancelled

When you think of network television, a lot of behemoth procedurals may come to mind, including NCIS, Blue Bloods or even shows like Chicago P.D. A few years ago that list would have also included the Simon Baker-led The Mentalist, another drama about a team who took down some big baddies as part of the primetime schedule. The show aired from 2008-2015, with a shortened final season after the Red John reveal, after which Baker has tackled projects at an increasingly slow rate. So why haven’t we seen much from the actor formerly known as TV’s Patrick Jane since The Mentalist? He explained.  

As it turns out, it’s all about the grind, or at least about the time and sweat that Simon Baker put in earlier in his career in order to set himself up for more family and community time. It’s not that Baker has quit the acting game; in fact, he had a pandemic-era film High Ground come out in 2020. It’s just that he’s not acting as steadily or with as much of a push these days. But he spoke with CBS LA about why that is, noting, 

I’m in my early 50s now so I’m kind of – I have a different attitude and outlook about things now because I was able to work pretty consistently as a younger actor and provide for my family, etc. Things are a little bit different now for me. I’m not as hungry about work as much so now I’m a little choosier about the sort of stories I want to be involved in.

He also says what’s kind of “more [his] focus" these days is how television and film are becoming more and more melded. This gives entertainment a better opportunity to build a sense of community and camaraderie. That's his passion, and in short, it sounds like he's at a point where he's able to pursue that passion, rather than chasing those grueling network hours or looking to land those bigger network paychecks. His goal?

To use the medium and this beautiful art form that I love, and it’s a very empathic art form, cinema and television, these days, because they’re sort of almost inter-melded. To use it in a way that can be enlightening as well as entertaining, and it can open people up to different ways of seeing things. Even make people feel more normal or part of a community.

Prior to coming to America to work on projects like The Mentalist, Simon Baker was a working actor in Australia. He reportedly moved to Los Angeles in 1995, appearing in a slew of movies, including The Devil Wears Prada, The Ring Two and L.A. Confidential before he landed the coveted network TV gig as Patrick Jane. He may be working more at home in his native Australia since moving home in 2015, but he does fondly recall the sheer number of projects that were available in the U.S. versus when he is working at home.

What I remember is just how much work there was, like how many jobs when I first got to Hollywood.. How many auditions there were, how much content was being made. And that was mid90s, that’s not even now. Now the amount of content is just insane. Back then, I was blown away by that. As an actor in Australia, maybe once every couple of months there’d be a script that would come in and everybody would scramble to read it… our Australia film industry is a small industry.

Plenty of actors slow down when the time is right or they've made enough money to pursue roles they really want to take most. At one point Simon Baker's contract at CBS was guaranteeing him at least $30 million in salary, and if he didn't spend egregiously, there should still be plenty of that to fall back on. Plus, he is still a working actor and does have some projects in the pipeline, including an upcoming film called Blaze from director Del Kathryn Barton. What's next is anyone's guess, but it sounds like it won't have anything to do with chasing down serial killers on CBS. 

For those of you who do like the serial killer stuff, there is plenty like The Mentalist on the 2022 TV schedule. Or you can always relive Patrick Jane's best Mentalist episodes with an HBO Max subscription. 

Amazing Race & Top Chef superfan with a pinch of Disney fairy dust thrown in. If you’ve created a rom-com I’ve probably watched it.