Simon Baker's Directorial Debut 'Breath' Begins Filming In Western Australia

Simon Baker is assembling a star-studded cast for his first feature film as director, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. The 46-year-old actor-turned-director is putting together his debut feature film, which is the adaptation of Tim Winton's best-selling novel Breath.

Simon Baker has announced that such stars as Elizabeth Debicki (The Great Gatsby, The Night Manager), Richard Roxburgh (Moulin Rouge, Rake), and Rachael Blake (Sleeping Beauty, Truth) have joined his upcoming movie, the filming process for which recently launched in Western Australia.

In addition to directing the film, Simon Baker is also set to play a reclusive surfer named Sando. Simon Baker gave a chance to two rising young surfers, Samson Coulter and Ben Spence, to try themselves at acting in the upcoming movie.

Coulter and Spence are set to play Pikelet and Loonie, respectively, two surfers who bond with Sando and his wife Eva in the 1970s. Simon Baker is set to play Sando, while Debicki will appear as Eva and Roxburgh and Blake as Mr. and Mrs. Pike, respectively.

In his interview with the Sydney Morning Herald, Simon Baker revealed that he had spent about a year looking for the right candidates to play surfers Pikelet and Loonie. It looks like the Mentalist star is happy with his final choice.

"Tim's book viscerally captures the restless curiosity and yearning for identity that often defines our coming of age."

The film's script was co-written by Simon Baker, Gerard Lee, Peter Duncan, and novel author Winton. The author of the book revealed the Great Southern region has influenced his life to an enormous degree, adding that he is delighted that the film is being filmed on the beaches, streets, and forests that inspired him to write the novel.

Mark Johnson, who won an Academy Award for Rain Man and two Emmy awards for Breaking Bad, is set to produce Breath alongside Jamie Hilton. It was seven years ago when Johnson first read Winton's novel and realized it would be great to adapt it into a feature film. And then Simon Baker jumped in and wanted to direct as well as star in it.

In his interview with the Sydney Morning Herald, Johnson revealed he had found the novel's themes "universal," yet it was a very specific Australian story.

"Tim Winton fabricated this town – this life – in Western Australia that sounded both romantic and sparse."

And when Johnson was in the United States, he met with the author of the novel, who was promoting his then freshly-published book around the country. Johnson then decided to share a copy of the novel with Simon Baker, who worked with him on the TV show The Guardian.Initially, Johnson thought he and Simon Baker would co-produce the adaptation of Breath, but Baker was excited to direct the film as well as play the lead character.

It was announced by the Australian over two weeks ago that Simon Baker launched the shooting process for the upcoming film. And Johnson thinks Baker will have a successful directorial debut with this movie since he knows the TV world well.

"Simon's been around some very good film directors, Curtis Hanson [on LA Confidential] and Ang Lee [on Ride With The Devil] and people like that."

And according to Johnson, it's crucial for Simon Baker to truly reproduce and reflect all of the themes that have been so important to Tim Winton when he was writing the novel. Baker previously admitted that the filming process for Breath is "a nightmare" due to the weather conditions.

"Shooting outside, you're totally at the mercy of the weather anyway but, with surfing, you also have the swell, the wind direction, the light."

[Photo by Cassandra Hannagan/Getty Images]