The award-winning actress tackled extreme weather and emotion for her directorial debut about a widow who retreats to the wilderness
robin wright
Credit: Zack DeZon/Getty

Looking back at her three decades working in Hollywood, Robin Wright says she feels nothing but gratitude for the opportunities and hard work she's put into her career.

"[I think about] how blessed I am," Wright, 54, tells PEOPLE in the latest issue. "I am very aware of all the gifts. The Princess Bride, Forrest Gump -- it's such an honor to have been a part of those iconic films. I've been very lucky with the course of my career. And I just love that we're here now, in my 50s and I can't wait to direct again."

The actress, who directed multiple episodes of her Netflix series House of Cards, says she chose Land — in which she also stars as a grieving widow trying to lose/isolate herself in the wilderness — to be her feature directorial debut because of its personal and timely message.

"It's so much about human resilience and when you're in a tough spot or you're dealing with grief, a beautiful person comes into your life and helps guide you through that difficult time," she explains. "You come out feeling empowered and enlightened, with a new found sense of hope and faith that you thought you may have lost forever. I'm so pleased that people respond to it. With all the ugliness and the bullying on Twitter, there's just been so much encouragement of meanness. This was the antithesis of that. And I just felt like it was time to put that out there. I wanted that message to be my first movie."

robin wright
Robin Wright with costar Demián Bichir
| Credit: Getty

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Although Wright was familiar with some of the challenges associated with directing, she says the decision to shoot on location in Alberta, Canada, where cast and crew endured extreme temperature and weather changes, proved to be one of her best decisions, despite the difficulties it presented for everyone.

"The weather in Alberta is very unpredictable and wicked and you have to be ready to be shooting a summer scene in 75 degree weather with the sun out, and then all of a sudden 30 minutes later, [adapt to] a deluge of rain and wind and freezing cold temperatures," she explains. "So you had to kind of keep jumping around with the schedule, but it was so worth it because it felt so much more authentic. What you see [onscreen] is we were there, the breath coming out of our mouth in the cabin, it was that cold."

Wright admits she's an outdoorsy person herself, so she enjoyed the remote location more than most.

"I've always been a nature lover and I need it," she says. "Probably most people feel the same, especially given this last year, right? It's so beneficial to get out and smell the air and feel the air, and not just be in your room on Zoom calls all day. We camped constantly when I was a kid — in tents and in campers, driving across America, so this was not foreign to me in any shape or form. I did the same with my kids [Dylan, 29, and Hopper, 27, with ex Sean Penn]."

Do her kids have a favorite movie of their mom's?

"You know, I don't even know that they've seen all of my movies!" she says with a laugh. "Your own kids, they're like yawning going to sets since they've been going since they were six months old."

Land is now playing in theaters.