Actress Kristen Stewart was best known to mainstream audiences as Bella Swan in the "Twilight Saga" (2008-2012), but also cultivated an eclectic and critically praised career as the star of such independent and arthouse films as "Into the Wild" (2007), "The Runaways" (2010), "Clouds of Sils Maria" and "Lizzie" (2018). Born Kristen Jaymes Stewart in Los Angeles, California, she was the daughter of American and Australian parents, both of whom worked behind the scenes in the entertainment industry. Stewart initially believed that she would follow in her parents' footsteps, but an appearance in a school play at the age of eight drew the attention of a casting director, who cast her in a non-speaking role in the Disney Channel film "The Thirteenth Year" (1999). But she would enjoy a breakout turn as Patricia Clarkson's tomboyish daughter in Rose Troche's "The Safety of Objects" (2001), which in turn led to a starring role opposite Jodie Foster in David Fincher's harrowing thriller "Panic Room" (2002), with the two leads playing a mother and daughter under siege from a trio of burglars in search of missing bonds. Stewart then made the leap to top billing in the teen-oriented action-comedy "Catch That Kid" (2004); it, along with Jon Favreau's "Zathura: A Space Adventure" (2005) and the Pang Brothers' supernatural thriller "The Messengers" (2007), seemed to indicate that Stewart was headed for mainstream stardom. But a sensitive turn as a rape victim who becomes selectively mute in the TV-movie "Speak" (Showtime/Lifetime, 2005) showed that Stewart's heart lay in more thoughtful independent projects, and subsequent projects in that vein - Jon Kasdan's "In the Land of Women" (2007), Mary Stuart Masterson's "The Cake Eaters" (2007) and Sean Penn's Oscar-nominated "Into the Wild" - showcased her skill at playing soulful, occasionally vulnerable young women. But her turn as Bella Swan, the heroine of the romantic-fantasy franchise "The Twilight Saga," thrust her back into the mainstream spotlight; the blockbuster series, which comprised five films, beginning with 2008's "Twilight" and concluding with "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2" (2012), made Stewart a household name and Hollywood's top-earning actress in 2010, though critics an fans were divided on her performance, which some labeled as quietly powerful and others as blank. She drew better notices for Greg Mottola's comedy "Adventureland" (2009), and between "Twilight" assignments, returned to independent features like "Welcome to the Rileys" (2010), which earned her a BAFTA Rising Star Award. When the "Twilight" series ran its course, Stewart made one final foray into fantasy with "Snow White and the Huntsman" (2012), a revisionist take on the enduring fairy tale, before settling into steady and diverse work as a lead in independent features. Stewart's choices - guitarist Joan Jett in "The Runaways" (2010), Dean Moriarty's teenaged wife in "On the Road" (2012), a military guard in "Camp X-Ray" (2014) - showed a willingness to play outside of audience expectations, and her gambit paid off: she was the first American actress to win a Cesar Award for her turn as the assistant to an actress (Juliette Binoche) undergoing an existential crisis in Olivier Assayas's "Clouds of Sils Maria" (2014), and reunited with the director two years later for the supernatural-tinged drama "Personal Shopper" (2016). Between these projects, Stewart co-starred with Julianne Moore in "Still Alice" (2014), appeared in Woody Allen's "Café Society" (2016) and made her directorial debut with the experimental film "Come Swim" (2016). Her subsequent roles retained a fiercely independent streak - the housemaid and alleged lover to accused murderer Lizzie Borden (played by Chloe Sevigney) in "Lizzle" (2018); the filmmaker Savannah Knoop, who "played" author JT Leroy in public appearances, in "JT Leroy" (2018); and the actress Jean Seberg, whose political affiliations reportedly led to her death, in "Seberg" (2019) - though Stewart also found time to play one of "Charlie's Angels" in director Elizabeth Banks' reboot of the film franchise in 2019.
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