‘What Happened, Brittany Murphy?’ Looks at How Hollywood Contributed to the Actress’ Death

brittany murphy

In the documentary What Happened, Brittany Murphy?, filmmaker Cynthia Hill explores the tragic demise of one of Hollywood’s most promising young talents and the part that toxic celebrity culture played in her downfall.

Told over two parts, the film details Murphy’s trajectory to movie star, thanks to roles in hit films such as Clueless, 8 Mile and Girl, Interrupted.

However, thanks to the ruthless machine of the movie industry and the tabloid speculation that comes with it, Murphy — like so many other young actresses — fell victim to the criticism and scrutiny that saw her lose an excessive amount of weight and otherwise drastically change her appearance.

Over time, Murphy’s once-promising career seemed to pivot into decline, before she passed away at the age of 32 from anemia and pneumonia in 2009.

Since her death, new revelations have come to light about her relationship with her husband Simon Monjack — who died six months after his wife and of similar causes — painting a less than idyllic picture of the marriage.

Featuring new archival footage and interviews with those closest to Murphy, including actress Kathy Najimy, the documentary series goes beyond the tabloid rumours to examine these lingering concerns about the control Monjack exercised over her as well as the impact of Hollywood’s sexism on her struggles.

For example, one of the interviewees recalls an agent telling Murphy she was “huggable, but not f—ckable” (something that the actress herself reflected on while she was alive) which prompted her extreme weight loss — something which the coroner said contributed to her death.

Murphy’s condition was exacerbated by Monjack, who allegedly encouraged her throughout their marriage to get plastic surgery and lose even more weight.

The documentary also paints Monjack as a highly controlling and manipulative partner who cut Murphy off from all other relationships, both personal and professional, in order to become her agent, business manager, and even makeup artist. Monjack also reportedly took over her email account, confiscated her phone, and assumed complete control of her money, which enabled him to spend USD$3 million of her earnings in three years.

What Happened, Brittany Murphy? will premiere in Australia on November 7, 2021 on BINGE. Check out the trailer below.

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