8 Decades of The Hollywood Reporter
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Kristen Stewart was about to turn 12 when David Fincher's Panic Room -- about a mother and child who take refuge for nearly the entire movie in a safe room during a burglary -- was released in March 2002. As the tomboy daughter of Jodie Foster's character, she's virtually unrecognizable from the ingenue she would become as Twilight's Bella or Snow White & The Huntsman's princess. It's a naivete she has fostered on and off the screen until recently admitting to an affair with her married Snow White director, Rupert Sanders.
Panic Room may have been a hit with audiences, grossing nearly $200 million worldwide, but it wasn't with critics. THR's David Hunter was among the naysayers, writing, "You need more than a set … to make a good movie."
While most reviewers didn't elaborate on Stewart's performance, agents and studios fell hard for the budding actress. Raised in Los Angeles, she'd first been spotted by an agent at age 8 in a school play. She secured a few small roles, but Panic Room proved her breakout.
The tween -- who grew three inches during filming -- lucked out when Hayden Panettiere exited the film. Laray Mayfield, who cast Stewart, tells THR it was Stewart's "spunk" and professionalism that hooked her: "Even at 11, she was very serious about her work." As for Stewart's recollections, the actress once said: "When I got Panic Room, I'm like, 'Oh my God, that's huge! It's bigger than huge.' "