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The Imagination Connoisseur known as “MKay” remembers the actress, Brittany Murphy, who passed away at the age of 32 in 2009 and whose life was the subject of a recent Lifetime Network biopic.
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Editor’s Note: This letter has been edited.
Hola El Robdirino … !
Like EveryOne out here in “The Mad Mad Mad Mad World” during the continuing COVID-Crisis, I as well am continuing to work and attempt to be “productible” while the “Goal-Posts” keeps being moved on all the vaccine and COVID-related items. Hope everyone is staying safe out there, the best We-All can!!!
One thing I have enjoyed doing over the past several years is donating blood. Not only is it always needed and in high demand, but also they have comfy chairs where one can watch movies while they are giving -NOW- if one donates whole blood it is only a 15 to 30 minute affair. It is only when one gives platelets and is hooked up to the apheresis machine that it becomes an 1 and a half to 2hr type deal … perfect time for some movie watching though!
They didn’t always have the T.V/DVD players hooked-up to each chair, but started doing that over the summer. At first, I just watched whatever movie fair was there … I found pretty quickly though after watching heavier movies like “Moulin Rogue” and “O Brother Where Art Though” -while great- are not necessarily the most enjoyable movies to watch at 7 or 8 in the morning while giving blood.
Thus -for myself- needing a little boost and something to look forward to. “Tossing myself a bone to fetch” as someone I used to work with would say.
I decided to make November (…this current November that is) “Brittany Murphy Month” (Nov. 10 is her birthday), where I watched many of the great-late actresses’ work!
Now -GrowingUP- I did not appreciate Ms. Murphy’s work as much as I do now. Developmentally at the high school age for myself, I thought it was cool she was in stuff like “Sin City” but was not all about her rom-com stuff at the time…
I -as everyone- was shocked to hear bout her untimely death at the age of 32. That was the year of 2009, where the world was also shocked by the death of Michael Jackson, a year after Health Ledger’s death and as the world was still recovering from the ’08 Global Recession Economic Crisis – so a lot was going on then for everybody!!!
Going back this past month over Ms. Brittany Murphy’s career and watching a lot of her interviews in the mid-2000s with the likes of Jay Leno, David Letterman, and Craig Ferguson (this was her last late-night show appearance I could find in April 2009) it made me think of the “time&place” of being a young “Hollywood starlit” during this time period.
There was seemingly SO much pressure to be the “next big thing” -the next Meg Ryan, the next Michelle Pfeiffer, the next Angela Bassett, the next Meryl Strep, whatever- and I can’t imagine what kind of pressure that put on all the actresses of that time, not just Brittany Murphy. The early to mid 2000s was a time (…for better and sometimes worse, depending on the movie. Lol!) where doing these interviews and going on these talk shows REALLY did help to “get you out there, and up there with ‘The Stars’ ”
I remember it was all that way for me growing-up, into young adulthood, but somewhere in the 2010’s it shifted … I’m not quite sure when and where and it’s also hard to parse out the indie market/more underground stuff that for better or worse was trounced out by the “spectacle-flicks” You so often talk about Rob – which aren’t bad, but don’t leave room for much else these days and doesn’t bring the deep character performances to a role like a talented actress such as Brittany Murphy could bring to a performance – in my opinion anyways!
Now -let me make it clear from my perspective- I think Brittany Murphy had a GREAT career. She started off as a teenager with bit-parts in popular TV shows of the time like “Sister Sister” and “Boy Meets World” and of course really broke through the Hollywood veneer for herself with her supporting role in “Clueless.” In the late 90’s she had this seemingly weird period where she kept getting cast as the highly attractive-yet unhinged-wild or mildly psychotic girl (ala Juliette Lewis during the same time period) … I guess that typecasting was “in” then. Lol!
But then she did “8-mile” & “Don’t Say a Word” (…which interestingly looking back, was also the unofficial end to the Michael Douglas psychological thriller domination from the 90’s).
What really was most fascinating to me going back and reviewing Ms. Murphy’s work were just the sheer amount of people she worked with. I’ve already mentioned Michael Douglas -but she worked as part of a tremendous ensemble cast in “Sidewalks of New York”- worked with Kathy Bates and Holly Hunter in “Little Black Book.” She was in a little indie sized movie called “Neverwas” -starring and costarring Aaron Eckhart and Ian McKellen as well!!! Of course “Sin City” was already mentioned, “Girl Interrupted”, “Driving in Cars with Boys” … Roger Ebert said she had a “Lucille-Ball” style & timing with her more comedic/quirky performances. Her range and talent always reminded me the most of a Helena Bonham Carter. Could be edgy, or dark, or very funny, depending on the role. Just my 2cents though!!
The animated movie “Happy Feet” she was in, which she played the female lead for also had Elijah Wood, Robin Williams, Hugo Weaving, Hugh Jackman, etc. etc. The list goes on and on! She even worked with comically acclaimed (in Japan anyways) Toshiyuki Nishida in 2008’s “Ramen Girl.”
Gary Fleder, director of “Don’t Say a Word” had this to say about Murphy as an actress:
“What people don’t appreciate is that she was fearless. Whatever eccentricity or vanity existed in her life, in her work as an actor there was none. She was willing to go for it, to be raw, to be ugly and to expose herself emotionally.”
In addition to her film career, she also was part of Arthur Miller’s re-vamped (at the time ‘97) “A View from the Bridge” theater production, and I haven’t even mentioned one of her most obvious and long-lasting credits as “Luanne Platter” from “King of the Hill” which will remain in the cult-status zeitgeist in its own right in the foreseeable future (…Unless a solar-flare comes and takes everything out, but isn’t that only always the case. Lol!)
Anyway – I think about where Ms. Murphy’s career would have gone if she’d continued. The film industry has changed so much over the past decade. Not that great things haven’t come out! As You Sir Rob and Ms. Elisabeth have covered in many of the WINEing about Movies there’s been a lot of great scify/horror-psychological indie flicks (Ex. Machina, Gone Girl, Jane Doe, Mandy, etc. etc). Maybe she would have done a dark-hit indie movie or so. Or as had been all the rage the past few years, maybe she would have done one of these brief Netflix series (i.e. Penny Dreadful, Carnival Row, Killing Eve, etc.) She MOST certainly had the talent to bounce back in some capacity for herself careerwise … now though … with all the streaming waves and continuing decline of “traditional hollywood” it seems is as hard if not harder to “stay on the top” as an A-lister as ever, whatever “staying on the top” means in that industry (..never really got that term personally).
O’Well…SumAngelsR-JUST-2Good for this world AnyWayzZZ!
Just was reminiscing about Brittany Murphy and her career as she “Passed-On to The Great Beyond” in December of ’09 – nearly 11 years ago almost …
Do You have any thoughts on Brittany Murphy or her career Sir Rob …??? I know we all have our different fancies&tastes when it comes to particulars of actors/directors/media in general, but I tend to agree with You Sir that “Great Art is Objective” & I think that is DEFINITELY the case with Ms. Murphy for me anyways as an actor. She was a Top-Tier Artist to The Utmost.
Or if not thoughts about Brittany Murphy in particular. Is there a great actor/actress that YOU may not have appreciated at the time they were doing their major “works” or “films” but in came to really appreciate their films LATER in life???
Another example I can think of for me is the actor Anthony Quinn. I knew of Anthony Quinn from “Zorba the Greek” and the “Guns of the Navarone” but it took me a little extra self-effort and prompting to watch him in “Viva Zapata” “La Strada” and “Savages” to name a few … but I’m glad I did, because even though not every MOVIE he did was great -he was GREAT in every movie he was in- and THAT is the mark of a great actor/actress in my book.
Thank You for EveryThing Rob. So GrateFull4U & The Whole Community this ThanksGiving. Hope You’ALL Have a Wonderful WonderFull Holiday Season.
PS – Thought October Halloween was Great!!! Wish guys could have gotten around to “The Crow” and “Fraility” – but can’t do everything I understand!! Overall really great “HalloweenAthon”!
PSS – BondAthon was fun as well. Brosnan was Bond for my first forays into the franchise. But Connery is the best for sure!!!