Her first break in a major film role was in 2004, The Girl Next Door. She played an ex–porn star, Danielle, opposite Emile Hirsch. She had reservations about taking the part but director Luke Greenfield persuaded her to accept the role. Cuthbert did research for the film speaking to adult actresses from Wicked Pictures and Vivid Entertainment. The film was compared to Risky Business although Cuthbert said her character was not directly based on Rebecca De Mornay's. Critics were divided; some praised the film for boldness, others, notably Roger Ebert, called it gimmicky and exploitative. Ebert wrote that he saw Cuthbert's character as "quite the most unpleasant character I have seen in some time. " The View London said: "Cuthbert is surprisingly good, too – aside from being drop dead gorgeous, she also proves herself a capable comic actress in the Cameron Diaz mould". Cuthbert won two nominations for the MTV Movie Awards for Best Kiss and Best Breakthrough Performance.