On the morning of Sunday, December 20, 32 year-old actress Brittany Murphy was reported dead in Los Angeles. The young star of movies such as Clueless and 8 Mile was found unconscious in her shower, and pronounced dead upon arrival at Cedars-Sinai Hospital of apparent full cardiac arrest. Though no foul play has been suspected, autopsy results thus far have been deferred pending toxicology and neurological test results, which could come in 5-6 weeks. Her family has reported that the actress had flu-like symptoms right before her passing. She leaves behind her husband, Simon Monjack, a screenwriter, whom she married in May of 2007.
Amongst the talented star’s many credits, which includes TV, film, voice-overs, and even pop music, the Atlanta, Georgia born Murphy costarred with Drew Barrymore in the 2001 film, Riding in Cars With Boys. The Penny Marshall directed flick, though filmed almost entirely in New York and New Jersey, is set in the town of Wallingford, Connecticut, and was based on the book of the same name authored by Beverly D’Onofrio, a graduate of Lyman Hall High School. The film follows the story of a young woman, Bev, who becomes pregnant at 15 in the early 1960s, and is forced into marriage by her family to the father of the child. After quitting high school to become a wife and mother, she likewise is forced to put aside her dream of becoming a writer. After suffering through many trials and tribulations in her new domestic roles, Bev finds a new energy and sense of purpose, and finishes her high school degree and applies to college, in hopes of making a better life for her and her young son. Murphy’s character, Fay, the best friend to Barrymore’s Bev, likewise has similar difficulties, as she also becomes pregnant at the same time and has to marry her high school boyfriend. On working with Barrymore, Murphy remarked in an About.com interview:
“The first time we met was like fireworks [laughing]. Love at first sight. We got along like a house on fire from the second we met. We sort of got to know each other through our characters.”
Murphy’s endearing portrayal of the real life best friend spoke to audiences, as the chemistry between her and Barrymore, guided by Marshall’s talented hand, translated to solid box office numbers. Full of tender moments, perhaps one of Fay’s, and Murphy’s, most touching and memorable quotes seems all the sweeter in her passing:
“Sometimes we love people so much that we have to be numb to it. Because if we actually felt how much we love them, it would kill us. That doesn’t make you a bad person. It just means your heart’s too big.”