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Robin Wright on directing "Land," a film about human kindness

Robin Wright on directing "Land," a film about human kindness
Robin Wright on directing "Land," a film about human kindness 07:31

"Just to wake up and hear the birds, you don't hear planes or trains or automobiles … nothing. You just hear nature."

Nearly alone, at 8,000 feet up in the remote Canadian wilderness, actress Robin Wright is taking on the great outdoors, instead of the wilds of Washington. "Maybe because six years on a stage shooting 'House of Cards,' we weren't outside very much," she said.

"Ever?" asked correspondent Lee Cowan.

"Like, never! Let's just really make a departure and go the other end of the spectrum!" she laughed.

Actress and director Robin Wright. CBS News

Wright's latest character is a broken women who abandons everything she knows, and retreats to a mountaintop, in her new film, "Land."

"What we've been seeing the last four years, it was just encouraging more meanness in the world," she said. "And I just wanted to make a film about human kindness."

"And do you think in the end that's what this is about?

"I do."

Wright not only stars in the film, she directs it, too.

Cowan said, "You certainly did not pick any easy film logistically to be your directorial debut, did you?"

"Did not! Nope, didn't think about that at the time."

Director-actor Robin Wright on location filming her feature directorial debut, "Land."  Daniel Power/Focus Features

Parts of this high terrain in Alberta can deliver four seasons, sometimes in a single day. "You've got four thousand people asking you questions even ten minutes – 'Where do you want that, what are we doing with this, da da da, what lens do we want' – and then you've got to jump in front of the camera and have a breakdown scene. And I would just have one take in me, and then I would dry up, and I'd be so mad at myself."

She's used to playing both sides of the camera. She directed several episodes of Netflix's "House of Cards," including the season finale. And yet, she remains one of a small group of women in Hollywood being handed the reins to direct.

Wright said, "Should I? Can I? Yes, you can. You can do it. You just have to be committed to your strength and your confidence that you can do it."

Her roles are often strong women, intimidating even. Wright has a softer side, of course. Her Instagram shows that. Glamor shots, yes, but if you ask women in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, those pajamas Wright is wearing are a lifesaver.

Two decades of civil war have left the country in shambles. Rebels often use rape as a tool of war.

Wright said, "When you're raped in that country, you're disowned by your family because it's your fault. Their family's been dismantled, they're living in refugee camps, walking three miles to get water outside of a refugee camp, and not knowing if you're going to be raped or killed every day of your life."

So, money from the sales of those pajamas - under the brand name Pour le Femme - goes to help those women in the Congo and other conflict zones around the world.

If you're thinking that sounds a lot like her former husband, the actor-activist Sean Penn, perhaps, but those days are far behind her. Her two kids with Penn are now grown, and Wright got married again. She's doing her best to keep that part of life away from the glare of the spotlight.  

Cowan asked, "Takes a lot of work, though, to be private?"

"I don't know, does it? You just become more astutely aware of being private – knowing what to share, and what not so share in interviews, things like that."

Wright grew up in Texas, but moved to Southern California, where, as a teen, she started chasing roles in John Hughes movies. "That's all you wanted: You wanted to be in a John Hughes movie!" she said.

"'Sixteen Candles'? 'Breakfast Club'?"

"Oh yeah! I read for all of them, multiple times. And didn't get any of them."

"Damn you, Molly Ringwald!" Cowan laughed.

But before the '80s had ended, she landed the part of a princess, in "The Princess Bride."

Cowan asked, "Is there anything you haven't been asked about that movie after all these years?"

"I always get the same question over and over: Do you believe in true love, the way the movie states?" she said. "Yes, I do. And they always ask about Andre the Giant. Everybody wants to know what he was like."

"Well, now I have to ask, what was he like?"

"The sweetest puppy. Massive, gentle giant."

A few years later came her role as Jenny in "Forrest Gump."

"It certainly opened up a lot of doors for you, I imagine." Cowan said. "Was that a little overwhelming?"

"It's what you want, but I was so immersed in being a mom, why not just pace your career? You have to become a star, and then that star fades out? Because you do too much, you're seen too much? I knew I never wanted to be that."

She did pace herself. When "House of Cards" first came along, she was in her late 40s, but before taking it she still had questions for executive producer David Fincher: "I just don't have the desire to take time out of my life to just be the arm candy of a senator on a show, or a governor. And he said, 'I promise you, it won't be.'"

Robin Wright as Claire Underwood, the only person who could stand toe-to-toe with Kevin Spacey's Frank Underwood and come out on top, in "House of Cards." Netflix

Her latest role is a different kind of strong. Her skills as a director, different, too. But she's hardly done with either.

Cowan asked, "Do you know what's next?"

"I want to direct more," she laughed.

"Do you ever see yourself stepping being the camera for good?"

"For good? No. For good, no, I don't think so."

After all, the view from her career mountaintop is pretty good.

To watch a trailer for "Land" click on the video player below:

LAND - Official Trailer [HD] - In Theaters February 12 by Focus Features on YouTube

For more info:

Story produced by John Goodwin. Editor: Joseph Frandino.

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