"We saw a lot of people for the part of Tai, and I felt like everybody was kind of acting it as opposed to just feeling it. And when Brittany came in, she was just genuine," the film's writer and director, Amy Heckerling, recalled in the new HBO Max documentary What Happened, Brittany Murphy?. "She just felt like a sweet girl who kind of didn't fit in with the others and was just trying and being nice but, like, was lost in this world and that was exactly what I was looking for."
Of course, Murphy got the gig. The 1995 movie was a huge success and ended up being a breakout role for the star. Murphy went on to act in a number of other films, including Girl, interrupted, 8 Mile, Just Married and Uptown Girls. She also did voiceover work for the TV show King of the Hill.
But on December 20, 2009, Murphy's life came to a sudden end. In 2010, the Los Angeles County Coroner's office listed community-acquired pneumonia as the primary cause of the 32-year-old star's death and iron-deficiency anemia and multiple drug intoxication as other significant conditions. Coroner spokesman Craig Harvey said the drugs were prescription medications and the manner of death was ruled an accident.
Murphy's husband Simon Monjack, who she wed in 2007, died shortly after on May 23, 2010. He was 40 years old. The Los Angeles County Coroner's office listed Monjack's cause of death as community-acquired acute bronchopneumonia and cardiomegaly with focal myocardial fibrosis as other significant conditions.
While there have been a lot of questions about Murphy's death over the years, Los Angeles County Coroner Asst. Chief Coroner Ed Winter said in 2020's Brittany Murphy: An ID Mystery that the coroner's office stood by its findings and that the case remained closed.
What Happened, Brittany Murphy? looks back at Murphy's life and death. The docuseries, produced by Blumhouse Television and Pyramid Productions, is available to stream on HBO Max now.