Kristen Stewart was poised to become a preteen star with her role opposite Jodie Foster in David Fincher's atmospheric thriller Panic Room (2002). A resident of Los Angeles, Stewart's nascent acting career got off to a promising start when she was cast in two vastly different films. Eschewing fluffy kids' movies, Stewart played troubled single mother Patricia Clarkson's tomboy daughter in independent film darling Rose Troche's tough examination of suburban angst, The Safety of Objects (2002). Stewart subsequently got her first taste of major Hollywood success with Panic Room. Replacing the original child actress cast as divorcée Meg's sullen, diabetic daughter Sarah, Stewart became an even more felicitous choice when original star Nicole Kidman dropped out and Foster stepped in. Though critics were less than ecstatic about the film, Stewart still garnered positive notice for her believable presence as Foster's offspring.
Following a supporting performance as the daughter of a couple who unknowingly move into a seemingly haunted house in the 2003 chiller Cold Creek Manor, Stewart took top billing in the emotionally charged drama Speak in 2004. Cast as a traumatized high school freshman whose status as a selective mute draws the concern of friends and family, Stewart's handling of the remarkably intimate material drew praise from critics and Sundance audiences. Stewart would also continue to impress critics with her thoughtful performances in movies like 2007's The Cake Eaters and Into the Wild, but one of her most attention-grabbing roles would come in 2008, when she was cast as Bella Swan in the big screen adaptation of the teen-centric vampire romance novel Twilight. A franchise already adored by legions of tween fans, the ensuing series of films, 2009's New Moon, 2010's Eclipse, 2011's The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1, and 2012's The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2, would make Stewart a household name. Despite this, the actress remained selective and thoughtful in her other roles, starring opposite Jesse Eisenberg in the cult hit 2009 comedy/drama Adventureland, and playing innovating rock star Joan Jett in 2010's The Runaways.
2012 would see Stewart joining Sam Riley and Kirsten Dunst for a much anticipated cinematic adaptation of Jack Kerouac's On the Road and starring as Snow White in Snow White and the Huntsman. In 2014, she appeared in Clouds of Sils Maria, which earned her a César Award for Best Supporting Actress, and also made her the first American actress to win a César Award. She also appeared in Still Alice, opposite Julianne Moore in her Academy Award-winning performance.
The back half of the 2010s found Stewart appearing in highbrow fare such as Olivier Assayas' Personal Shopper and Kelly Reichardt's Certain Women, while she continued to court mainstream success in a flashy reboot of the Charlie's Angels franchise and the underperforming sci-fi movie Underwater. She began the 2020s with the LGBT-friendly holiday relationship comedy Happiest Season, and collaborated with Pablo Larraín on Spencer, in the title role of the late Princess Diana.