Hudgens had her first acting role in an episode of the sitcom Still Standing, in which she portrayed Tiffany. Following her appearance on the series, she guest starred in an episode of the series Robbery Homicide Division, airing on CBS in 2002. Hudgens made her theatrical debut in the 2003 drama film Thirteen, in the supporting role of Noel. The film, which revolved around teenager Tracy trying to fit in and getting caught up in the wrong crowd, was somewhat of a commercial success, grossing $10 million worldwide. Despite its minor commercial success, the film received positive critical reviews. USA Today called Thirteen the most "powerful of all recent wayward-youth sagas". Hudgens subsequently landed a role in the 2004 science fiction-adventure film Thunderbirds, based on the 1960s television series. Hudgens portrayed the character of Tin-tin. The film was a commercial failure and was strongly criticized for "abandoning the original concepts".