Before The Hateful Eight and Anomalisa came around, this year's Best Supporting Actress Oscar nominee considered giving up acting.
Leigh, 54, took a prolonged break from work after giving birth to son Rohmer, 5, and found it difficult to return. She considered calling it a day because she "had a very lucky, great run" of making movies she loved.
But, "then this year happened and everything changed," she tells PEOPLE in an exclusive video.
"[Both movies] reminded me I really love acting. I love it! It's so gratifying. It brought that back to me, and it was something that I had forgotten about," she continues.
Her performance as the murderous fugitive Daisy Domergue in Quentin Tarantino's The Hateful Eight gave Leigh her very first Oscar nod, while the stop-motion movie Anomalisa is up for Best Animated Feature.
Although she's proud of her career, the star also says she hopes she has a lasting impact in another way: "I would like to be remembered for my kindness."