02/01/2012 at 08:00 PM EST
Just four months ago, when her divorce from Tao Ruspoli
was being finalized, Olivia Wilde described herself as "wobbly." But now, it seems like the actress is starting to stand tall again.
"When you go through a breakup, you lose faith for a while," Wilde, 27, tells Town & Country
"It makes you feel like such a failure, but I think this whole traumatic year has made me a better actor. And the good thing about getting divorced young – if there is a good thing – is that it makes you realize there's no schedule in life. It blasts you wide open and frees you to be honest with yourself."
Looking back, Wilde may describe her decision to elope with Ruspoli at age 18 (they were wed on a bus) as impulsive. "The danger is that you evolve over the years and find yourself in a different place," she says of marrying at a young age.
Though Wilde filed for divorce
nearly a year ago, she seems to have nothing but respect and admiration for Ruspoli.
"Tao was, and is, totally involved with his work, and for me there's nothing sexier than a man who is busy and obsessed with what he's doing," she tells Town & Country
. "I guess I saw that in my parents' marriage. They had real respect for their work and for each other."
It was Wilde's parents, in fact, who gave their daughter her first taste of Hollywood.
"My dad took me to see Saturday Night Live
as a birthday treat, and I knew at that moment that this was what I wanted to do," she says.
Later, as a teen, Wilde remembers having lunch with George Clooney
on the set of The Peacemaker
, the 1997 movie for which her parents, Leslie and Andrew Cockburn, wrote the screenplay.
"Having George Clooney be the first Hollywood actor I met set a pretty high standard," she said. "He's genuinely sincere, smart, gracious, and I like his politics, too, which always helps."
Another influential Hollywood leading man? Wilde's costar on House
, Hugh Laurie.
"I spent four years on House
and learned so much from Hugh," she tells Town & Country
. "I owe my entire film career to him. I wouldn't be anywhere near where I am now without Hugh and the series. It was the first time I'd been allowed to play somebody not defined by my looks."
Meanwhile, Wilde's formative experience with SNL
may not be her only connection to the show. Though she confirmed to Town & Country
that she's seeing someone in the entertainment business, Wilde stopped short of specifically naming SNL
cast member Jason Sudeikis, whom she's been spotted with in recent months
, as her boyfriend.