"I think anyone who's a parent, their heart expands," Wilde told PEOPLE

By Jeff Nelson
April 18, 2015 06:30 PM
Rob Kim/Getty

Playing a mother whose son goes missing in her latest film, Meadowland, Olivia Wilde says she probably couldn’t have taken on the role if she wasn’t a mom herself.

“I think anyone who becomes a parent, their heart expands, and you empathize on a different level, and that’s what I think was required to tell this story as it should have been told,” the actress, 31, told PEOPLE at the drama’s Tribeca Film Festival premiere in New York City Friday.

Wilde and fiancé Jason Sudeikis welcomed son Otis Alexander last year. (He turns 1 on Monday!)

“I don’t know if I would have been able to play [my character] Sarah without being a mother,” the actress adds. “It’s actually kind of a gift of motherhood: You’re in touch with different levels of emotions. I think it’s all very connected.”

In addition to starring opposite Luke Wilson in the drama, Wilde also co-produced it. With several other projects premiering at the Tribeca Film Festival – on top of playing mom and bride-to-be in real life – how does she balance it all?

“I feel very supported and just very lucky to be working on such good things,” Wilde says. “There are people managing much more complicated lives than me.”

Taking a break from work, Wilde and her husband-to-be, 39, made the film’s after-party a much-needed date night. The cute pair (who are arguably this year’s Tribeca Film Festival power couple, as each are premiering multiple projects) sipped on Bombay Sapphire cocktails at the Dream Downtown hotel’s rooftop lounge.

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