ACTOR Jenni Baird may have grown up in Sydney but the 2000 WAAPA graduate regards Perth “as the kind of place you imagine your perfect childhood to be”.
The mother of two returned for the first time in 15 years for CinefestOz 2015 with husband and writer/director Michael Petroni and reminisced about living on Seventh Avenue off Beaufort Street and riding her bike to campus.
“My enduring memory of Perth is that endless, beautiful summer heat with the big open skies,” Baird said.
“We used to sit out on the veranda in the evening and watch the night fall. The sky in Perth just seems bigger and the streets wider.”
The couple presented the WA premiere of Petroni’s film Backtrack in Busselton, starring Baird, Adrien Brody and Sam Neill, which was a finalist in this year’s CinefestOZ $100,000 Film Prize.
They also attended the Gala on Saturday night, where Baird said she was excited to wear her favourite WA designer Flannel and dazzled in a floor-length midnight blue lace gown with long sleeves on the red carpet.
Baird described Backtrack, filmed in January 2014 in Melbourne, Sydney and Carcoar, NSW, as a psychological thriller with supernatural suspense in the tradition of Alfred Hitchcock.
Despite steaming up the screen with Brody while playing his wife, Baird said Petroni was remarkably calm and composed while directing them on set.
“He’s not like that at all when he directs me for my auditions, so I was bracing myself but it was good in the end,” she said.
“I think I was so conscious of being true to what he’d written and making the picture he wanted to see.
“When you’re married to a filmmaker, you do feel like you’re giving birth to a third child.”
Filming began after the second season of A Place to Call Home, when Baird thought she would never play her character Regina Standish again following the show’s axing by Channel 7.
It has since been picked up by Foxtel and the third season will premiere Sunday, September 27.
“We thought the show was dead and gone; they’d chopped up the sets and sold off all the costumes,” Baird said.
“To have it brought back to life was extraordinary and I feel like I’m hitting my stride in season three more than ever. It’s great playing such a villain.”