Over the weekend, 32-year-old actress Brittany Murphy passed away — and it’s at times like this that we here at MTV News have to take a moment to reflect back on what it was like to spend time over the years with someone like her.
A lot of what you see in entertainment news is unapologetically manufactured. But when it came to Murphy, she was as pure a star as you could ask for — what you saw at home was exactly what she was like in real life. And as we got into the MTV offices this morning and began poring over some of the many interviews we had with her over the years, it was incredibly moving to see how her personality always shone through.
“Hey, MTV, this is Brittany Murphy, and you’re now visiting my trailer — my very own trailer! — on the set of ’Molly Gunn,’ ” the actress told us in 2002, giving us a “Cribs”-style tour of her trailer when we visited her on the set of a film that would eventually be released as “Uptown Girls.” “Would you like to see my refrigerator? We have Mountain Dew, Mountain Dew and some Mountain Dew.”
A TV shoot with a movie star is very much determined by the actor. No matter how many hours of preparation or how many creative ideas you’ve come up with, if the star isn’t eager to play ball, the footage won’t work. That was never a problem with Brittany Murphy.
At the Movie Awards earlier that year, she had given her “8 Mile” co-star Eminem a two-fingered salute while he performed — and naturally, we had to ask why. “My fingers popped up, and I was having the time of my life,” she bubbled over, happy to discuss anything. “I never saw him perform live, and it was so much fun!”
That sort of enthusiasm made Brittany seem like a real, normal person who gets excited at a concert, though unlike a normal person, she might even date somebody as cool as Eminem. Rumors were floating around that Murphy and Em had been more than just co-stars, so we again had to ask a potentially difficult question. And, once again, Brittany was polite and sweet.
“I’ll never tell!” she teased, quoting what might be the most famous line of dialogue she ever delivered — a catchphrase yielded from the commercials for her movie “Don’t Say a Word.” “[Eminem and I] became very close, and that’s all I’m going to say about that.”
On a personal note, my most memorable interview with Murphy was in 2005 for my favorite film of hers, “Sin City.” Before the cameras rolled, I told her how much I had enjoyed her in the otherwise-mediocre flick “Sidewalks of New York,” and she was eager to talk about actor David Krumholtz, with whom she had created a truly adorable love story: “That was one of the coolest chemistries I’ve ever had as an actor,” she beamed.
When the interview began, Murphy said her favorite thing about “Sin City” was “the fact that Clive Owen and Benicio Del Toro are fighting over me,” and I remembered a key element in interviewing the star: Ask your question quickly, and then get out of the way. She was so energetic that you could see her wanting to talk as soon as you began asking the question. Although that can be tricky sometimes, with her it was always fun.
“I actually didn’t realize how cool [’Sin City’] was,” she beamed. “I didn’t know that was the case until I saw the picture for the first time, the day before yesterday, and went, ’Wow! This is pretty amazing.’ ”
A few years prior, she took us on a fun tour of a Blockbuster Video store (remember those?).
“Thank you MTV; I’m sitting on the counter at Blockbuster, because I can — and I never will be able to do this again without getting in trouble,” she giggled. “So, have a wonderful day or night or whatever time you’re seeing this, and I’m going to go enjoy my movies!”
On her way out the door, after we had asked her simply to say “goodbye,” Brittany improvised something more, flashing a peace symbol, then a bat-toosie as she giggled her farewell several times.