Brittany Murphy, 1977-2009
I came back from seeing “Avatar,” which was great, and read the sad news that actress Brittany Murphy had died today at the age of 32.
I didn’t know her, of course, but I feel like I did. Her portrayal of Tai in the movie “Clueless” almost perfectly captured how I felt growing up. Some of her later movies were good and some not so good. But they all showcased her immense talent, her ability to project an innate sweetness that can’t be faked, and her willingness to take risks with different types of characters.
Nobody has yet announced a cause of death, but when I heard the news, I immediately thought of two explanations: drugs or suicide.
Brittany was a gentle soul in an ungentle business. In Hollywood, how you look is what you are, especially if you’re a woman. And you’re only as good as your latest movie or TV show. Those two factors have beaten down many talented souls like Brittany. In their suffering, they turn to drugs or mindless partying to distract themselves. If their pain becomes too much to bear, they end it in the only way they know how. In that case, the greatest tragedy is not that they ended their lives, but that they came to a point where they thought it was their best option.
I don’t know if any of that applies to Brittany. I hope not. Her death is sad enough by itself, whatever its cause.
P.S. They’re now saying it was natural causes. It’s still a terrible tragedy, but at least she didn’t essentially die from unhappiness. That’s something. And she’s safe where she is.