Robin Wright talks reprising her role in House Of Cards

Besides acting in House Of Cards, Robin Wright (above centre) has also directed several episodes of the drama.
Besides acting in House Of Cards, Robin Wright (above centre) has also directed several episodes of the drama.

Veteran actress Robin Wright was inspired by the stoic American eagle as she reprises role in House Of Cards

After acting for more than 30 years - appearing in movies such as The Princess Bride (1987) and Forrest Gump (1994), as well as playing a headline role in the hit political drama series House Of Cards co-starring Kevin Spacey - Robin Wright now sees her future behind the camera.

"If I could just keep directing and doing little cameo characters that are wild, I would much prefer that," says the 48-year-old Texan, who has directed three episodes of House Of Cards.

She was speaking to journalists at a press event in London earlier this week for the launch of the show's third season.

Wright made her directorial debut last year during House Of Cards' second season, where she shot Episode 10, and leading man Spacey says she settled into the director's chair immediately despite some early nerves.

"I remember when Robin was getting close to starting her first day," recalls the actor who plays Wright's on-screen husband, Frank Underwood, who became president of the United States at the end of the previous season.

"She was getting more and more nervous, but the first day came and it was as though something happened. She just put on that set of boots and she was so comfortable. It didn't surprise me she did it so well, but I think she surprised herself. After all that anxiety about preparing, she fitted right into it."

Wright admits she was terrified, especially "the first time I had to direct Kevin because he knows what he's doing and doesn't need direction".

She adds: "I was petrified, but then my guard came down and it was second nature. I've been in this business for 30 years, so I know how a scene should go and what to say to get what you need from an actor."

In the current season, Wright directed Episodes 9 and 12 as well as reprised her on-screen role as Claire Underwood, now the first lady of the United States - a role that last year saw her become the first actress to win a Golden Globe for a Web-based TV show.

"I'm so lucky that House Of Cards gave me the opportunity to get my feet wet as a director," Wright says. "I was able to go to film school while doing my day job."

Directing has been a long-held ambition, she says, and she now has some feature ideas percolating in the background.

"I have wanted to direct for a while and thought it'd be because I am such a control freak," she says with a laugh.

"But it was the antithesis of that. It was the collaboration; that every single department builds that piece that you guys watch. That's what is so exhilarating."

One director in particular has been an inspiration to her - the late English film-maker Anthony Minghella, who won a Best Director Oscar for The English Patient (1996) before working with her on the 2006 romantic crime-drama Breaking And Entering.

"Anthony was brilliant because he gave you room and he gave you a story so that you could interpret your emotion. You can't say to an actor, 'Have more energy in the next take' or 'Be happier'. Those aren't playable words for an actor," says Wright, who divorced actor Sean Penn in 2010 after 14 years of marriage, which produced two children.

"What makes a person have more energy? It's like, 'Think of a time like when your first child was born.' That's elation. Give the actor that note.

"And directors who are not actors often don't know what we actors need to get there."

As an actress in House Of Cards, Wright says she looked to an unusual source for inspiration.

Her character Claire is every bit as tough and calculating as her husband, Frank, and she found her stimulus on the National Geographic channel.

"People ask what feminist or icon did I follow for this role, but there's no one," she says. "I went with the American eagle. I saw it on National Geographic. Watching the way that bird flew higher than everything else and looked down on everything and calculated strategy, it was inspiring.

"It was very quiet and stoic, with a closed mouth and steady neck, and I emulated that.

"If you believe that your wingspan is broader than everyone else's and you know how to attack your prey without being caught, you can pull so much from that."

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