Fair-haired Australian actor Simon Baker (occasionally billed as Simon Baker-Denny, and not to be confused with the Native American performer of the same name) specialized in playing suave, cultured, and sophisticated types, with many assignments as a romantic lead. He debuted as a performer in his native country, with roles on such popular Oceanian series as E Street (1989), Heartbreak High (1994), and Naked (1995), but made the Hollywood leap opposite fellow Aussie import Russell Crowe with a small supporting role in the Curtis Hanson-directed post-noir blockbuster L.A. Confidential (1997). Taking the success of this as a cue, Baker then accepted a lead in the similar, albeit less-favorably received, outing Judas Kiss (1998). He starred opposite Val Kilmer and Carrie-Anne Moss in Red Planet (2000), and opposite Hilary Swank in The Affair of the Necklace (2001), but achieved far greater recognition and acclaim in the lead role on the CBS drama series The Guardian (2001-2004). He played Nick Fallin, a coke-addled attorney who finds redemption via child advocacy, until the series was canceled after three seasons.
Successive projects included a turn in the big-budget horror sequel The Ring Two (2005); a role as Anne Hathaway's prospective suitor (whom she rejects in favor of her career) in David Frankel's The Devil Wears Prada (2006); and a part as one half of an interracial couple in Something New, opposite Sanaa Lathan. Meanwhile, at about the same time, Baker played Jeff Breen, a professional thief, on the short-lived CBS crime series Smith, starring Ray Liotta. In fall 2008, Baker headlined the new detective series The Mentalist, playing an investigator with razor-sharp obervational skills. He also took on the lead role -- as a parent who opens up a nasty Pandora's box when he searches for his missing daughter -- in director Dror Soref's supernatural horror outing Not Forgotten (2008). He earned an Emmy nomination in 2009 for his work on The Mentalist, and he appeared in the 2011financial drama Margin Call. ~ Nathan Southern, Rovi