An agent contacts Stewart's parents after seeing the 8-year-old perform at her elementary school's Christmas play. After a slew of auditions, Stewart makes her film debut in the indie flick The Safety of Objects with Glenn Close and Joshua Jackson.
At 12, Stewart lands her big break opposite Jodie Foster (right) as a diabetic teen trapped at home during a heist in Panic Room. The thriller nabs the top spot at the box office, grossing more than $30 million in its opening weekend. Stewart's performance impresses critics and earns her a nomination for best lead actress at the Young Artist Awards. "Her approach is very different from most actors," Foster tells Elle. "She's stoic. She keeps it all wrapped up."
After starring in the caper film Catch That Kid with Corbin Bleu in 2004, Stewart returns to the family film genre in Zathura, based on a book by the author of Jumanji. The space adventure underperforms at the box office, taking in a mere $13 million its opening weekend.