While we think of Murphy as a movie star, she got her start at the age of 14 with a one-episode stint on Murphy Brown in 1991. That was followed with a string of guest appearances on flashback faves like Blossom, Parker Lewis Can't Lose and Party of Five -- and she been back on TV since 1997, giving voice to Luanne on King of the Hill for 231 episodes.
She got edgy for a role in the 1999 Winona Ryder and Angelina Jolie vehicle Girl, Interrupted, in which she played Daisy, a surprisingly likable patient who is addicted to laxatives, keeps chicken carcasses in her room and (spoiler alert!) ultimately commits suicide on her birthday (photo at right).
Locked up again for the 2001 psychological thriller Don't Say a Word with Michael Douglas, Murphy delivered the infamous line "I'll never tell," but there were other memorable appearances around that time, including roles in the hysterical Drop Dead Gorgeous with Kirsten Dunst and Denise Richards; the rom-com Summer Catch with Jessica Biel and Freddie Prinze, and the emotional Riding with Cars with Boys with Drew Barrymore.
She earned acclaim for her stint as Eminem's love interest in 8 Mile, but it was 2003's Just Married that had her front and center again as comic co-lead, this time with Ashton Kutcher. The film about a couple from two different worlds who rush into marriage and set off on a disastrous honeymoon didn't receive the same acclaim as 8 Mile, but it kicked off a real life romance between Brittany Murphy and Kutcher -- while also taking the number one box office spot its opening weekend and making $17 million in theaters.
Uptown Girls, with Dakota Fanning, was another makeover movie -- except in this touching flick, Murphy's character made the transition from bubbly, ditzy and irresponsible wild thing to emotionally mature and responsible adult.
The romantic comedy Little Black Book had her working with the likes of Ron Livingston and Holly Hunter, and bumped her to a new pay grade, earning her $4 million.
She changed gears to take a role in Robert Rodriguez's noir Sin City, the gritty crime drama based on the graphic novel of the same name. (Read the SheKnows interview with Brittany about Sin City here, and see how she looked at the Sin City movie premiere right here.)
Murphy then did another about face for some toe tapping in Happy Feet. As Gloria the penguin in the massively successful animated tale, she sang covers of Queen's Somebody to Love and Earth, Wind & Fire's Boogie Wonderland -- and that wasn't her only time on the mike. Her dance single with Paul Oakenfold, Faster Kill Pussycat, topped Billboard's Hot Dance Club Play chart and hit number seven on the UK singles chart that same year.
Also that same year, she starred in The Dead Girl, a very different sort of film that earned her some serious acting cred. Nominated for a host of 2007 Independent Spirit Awards, the five part story also starred Toni Collette and Marcia Gay Harden, but was built around the murder of Murphy's character, a prostitute looking for a better life.
In 18 years, Brittany Murphy brought us tons of light and often ditzy laughs, but also hunkered down for the serious roles. Those listed above are just the highlights, showing Murphy's range, and one can't help but wonder what else she had in her.
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