At the age of 13, Jodie Foster catapulted to stardom after she portrayed a prostitute in the 1976 film, “Taxi Driver.” Since then, Foster has come to know what it is like to live under the watchful eye of Hollywood’s cameras.

That experience, plus some heartfelt advice for Kristen Stewart, is the subject of a lengthy op-ed letter Foster published in The Daily Beast in support of her former “Panic Room” co-star.

“If I were a young actor today I would quit before I started. If I had to grow up in this media culture, I don’t think I could survive it emotionally,” Foster, 49, wrote in both defence of Stewart and caution of today’s media culture.

In 2001, Foster spent five months working with Stewart on the set of “Panic Room.”  

“I grew to love that kid,” Foster said of Stewart, who celebrated her 11th birthday while the pair shot this movie.

Now, Foster has taken her own shots at the paparazzi, who have dogged Stewart 24/7 since Us Weekly published photos of the 22-year-old star embracing married “Snow White and the Huntsman” director Rupert Sanders, 41.

According to Foster, today’s era of social media has given birth to a “sanctioned hunting season” on celebrities, particularly on younger stars such as Stewart.

“We’ve all seen the headlines at the check-out counter. ‘Kristen Stewart Caught.’ We’ve all thumbed the glossy pages here and there. ‘Kris and Rob a couple?’” Foster wrote.

“We all catch the snaps. ‘I like that dress. I hate the hair. Cute couple. Bad shoes.’ There’s no guilt in acknowledging the human interest in public linens. It’s as old as the hills… But we seldom consider the childhoods we unknowingly destroy in the process,” she said.

As well, Foster condemned both the media and fans for treating Stewart and other young stars like “gods.” When scandal strikes, the curious “pull them down to Earth to gaze at their seams,” Foster wrote.

But Foster also shared one bit of wisdom with Stewart: “This too shall pass,” she said.

"The public horrors of today eventually blow away. And yes, you are changed by the awful wake of reckoning they leave behind,” said Foster.

“You trust less. You calculate your steps. You survive," she said.

Speaking from experience

After spending 46 years in the public eye, Foster knows the truth in those words all too well.

Foster launched her career acting in commercials at the age of three. Since then, the star of such films as “The Accused” and “The Silence of the Lambs” has emerged as one of the most respected actresses of her generation.

However, the media first became enthralled with Foster thanks to “Taxi Driver,” which earned Foster an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress.

“I have been an actress since I was 3 years old, 46 years to date. I have no memories of a childhood outside the public eye,” she said.

“I have neurotically adapted to the gladiator sport of celebrity culture, the cruelty of a life lived as a moving target,” Foster wrote.

The star also offered this insight and unvarnished dig at the hurtful headlines, intrusive photographers and fickle fans that propel today’s tabloid culture.

“In my era, through discipline and force of will, you could still manage to reach for a star-powered career and have the authenticity of a private life,” said Foster.

“Sure, you’d have to lose your spontaneity in the elaborate architecture…But at least you could stand up and say, I will not willfully participate in my own exploitation. Not anymore.”