Kristen Stewart, The Art of Discovery

Jeff Vespa/Rizzoli

Kristen Stewart may be one of the world's most famous movie stars, but she didn't always want to be an actress.

She was first inspired to get into movie making because her parents were "hardworking crew members," Stewart says in The Art of Discovery, a book of celebrity portraits by photographer Jeff Vespa benefiting the Creative Coalition. "I wanted to come home with hundreds of stories and plates of food nicked from craft services, looking like I had just been through absolute hell.

"I thought what they did for a living was awesome," she says.

However, a very young Stewart realized she was "too small to be a grip like my brothers were, so, I figured I'd act," she says. "It was my only option. The problem was getting a job. I was eight years old, and wasn't very actor-y."

Amber Heard, The Art of Discovery

Jeff Vespa/Rizzoli

After a year of auditioning, Stewart nabbed her first major role in 2001's The Safety of Objects. "I thought, 'Wow this isn't just a cool job like my parents have, this is who I am," the Twilight star says. "That was the day my dream of being a grip or a script supervisor shattered, and my life opened beyond my wildest dreams."

Also in the book, Matthew McConaughey recalls planning on going to law school until the end of his sophomore year in college when a friend suggested he check out NYU Film School. "His advice and reading the book The Greatest Salesman in the World gave me the courage to call my dad and say, 'I'd like to go to'—and I had to clear my throat—'film school,'" the Oscar winner remembers. "After a long pause, my dad said, 'Is that what you really want to do?' And I said, 'Yes, sir.' And he said, 'Well then, don't half-ass it, son.'"

The more than 100 portraits in the book also include Jessica Chastain, Nicole Kidman, Jared Leto, Kate Hudson, Zoe Saldana, Mark Ruffalo, Shailene Woodley and Dakota Fanning.

Amber Heard didn't let the initial rejection in Hollywood at age 18 get to her—even if it mean sharing an apartment with five other people. "My alternative was to return home and give up," she says. "I sat on my couch and I looked out the window and realized I had nothing else. This was the do-or-die moment. I ate Ramen noodles for a long time and then I landed something and have worked ever since."

On sale today, The Art of Discovery was edited by Robin Bronk and designed and art directed by Nancy Rouemy.

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