Brittany Murphy Filmography – Her Best Movie Isn’t What You Think
In Brittany Murphy's filmography, her highest-rated Giant Freakin Robot score is in Sin City.
Brittany Murphy launched her career at a young age from humble beginnings, born in Georgia and later raised in New Jersey. A thick East Coast accent helped define Murphy for years to come. She started acting in television on episodes of Party of Five with Scott Wolf, Sister, Sister, and Blossom opposite Mayim Bialik. But it was her choice to go into movies and Brittany Murphy’s overall filmography that most audiences remember about her.
The late great Brittany Murphy left us far too soon when she passed away in 2009 at the age of 32. The actor was too young, and her death remains a controversy. But Brittany Murphy left behind a legacy of an extraordinary filmography, one to be admired with performances that still resonate a decade or so after her untimely death.
Here is a look at some of the roles played by Brittany Murphy in her selected filmography. And we have the GIANT FREAKIN ROBOT score for every movie to rate the best of the bunch.
In terms of icon status, Brittany Murphy struck gold when she was cast as Tai Frasier in director Amy Heckerling’s coming-of-age comedy Clueless in 1995. Only 18 years old when the film debuted in theaters, Murphy was in for a wild ride, as the film eventually grossed over $56 million and became a pop culture phenomenon.
Brittany Murphy held her own as the newcomer to a Beverly Hills high school opposite actor Alicia Silverstone, who embodied the wealthy teenage popular girl Cher Horowitz. Based on Jane Austen’s novel Emma, Clueless deals heavily with Cher’s desire to give Tai a makeover and play matchmaker for her new friend, resulting in teenage dramatics to an outrageous degree.
Rotten Tomatoes currently ranks Clueless as Certified Fresh with a Tomatometer score of 81 percent and an Audience Score of 76 percent. The flick is easily one of Brittany Murphy’s crowning achievements in her filmography, and it helped launch her film career in addition to that of Alicia Silverstone and Paul Rudd.
GIANT FREAKIN MOVIE SCORE: 7.5/10
After the success of Clueless, Brittany Murphy seemed to be on top of the world. At such a young age, she had already acted in episodes of television and had a worldwide breakout role in what would become one of the greatest teen movies in history. At this point, Murphy set her sights on acting in a dark comedy, which brought her to costar in Freeway.
Appearing in Freeway alongside future A-listers Kiefer Sutherland and Reese Witherspoon, Brittany Murphy added to her growing filmography by portraying Rhonda in a loose adaptation of “Little Red Riding Hood.”
Produced by Oliver Stone, Freeway was a vehicle for Murphy to play a lesbian prisoner addicted to heroin who indulges in paint chip eating. A far cry from her days as Tai Frasier, Murphy left nothing on the table in terms of pride and glamor to play the supporting role of Rhonda.
GIANT FREAKIN MOVIE SCORE: 7.2/10
DROP DEAD GORGEOUS (1999)
If there was anything that Brittany Murphy was good at in her acting career, it was to find projects to add to her filmography that would end up having a massive cult following.
Drop Dead Gorgeous is a satire born from the mockumentary style of filmmaking that made movies like Waiting for Guffman such a hit in the 1990s. The film depicts a small town in Minnesota preparing for the regional American Teen Princess Pageant, but mysterious circumstances result in several deaths before and during the pageant event.
Brittany Murphy starred in Drop Dead Gorgeous as Lisa Swenson, a pageant contestant and best friend to Amber (Kirsten Dunst). Quirky and cool, Lisa gives her costume to Amber at a pivotal moment of the pageant, saving Amber from embarrassment. The dark comedy costarred a plethora of talent early in their careers, including Allison Janney, Denise Richards, and Amy Adams.
GIANT FREAKIN MOVIE SCORE: 5.65/10
GIRL, INTERRUPTED (1999)
For most of Brittany Murphy’s career, her filmography was stacked with comedic roles. However, she changed all of that with her memorable supporting performance as Daisy Randone opposite Winona Ryder and Angelina Jolie in Girl, Interrupted.
Defined by her character’s obsessive-compulsive disorder and past sexual abuse trauma, Murphy went above and beyond to play a psychiatric hospital patient in the 1960s.
Often compared to One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest because of its ensemble cast mostly taking place in a psychiatric facility, Girl, Interrupted showcased Murphy’s abilities to bring depth to an innocent character.
The movie is probably best remembered as the breakout project for Angelina Jolie, who took home the Academy Award for her role. However, Murphy’s death scene in the film is emotionally raw and powerful, reflecting her range as a trained actor.
GIANT FREAKIN MOVIE SCORE: 6.3/10
DON’T SAY A WORD (2001)
Following her dramatic turn as a psychiatric patient in Girl, Interrupted, Brittany Murphy began to be typecast in similar roles that fit her filmography at the time. Don’t Say a Word starred Murphy as a young woman with post-traumatic stress disorder. The part called for her to act alongside Michael Douglas, who plays a psychiatrist forced to obtain a deadly secret out of Murphy’s character.
Based on the novel of the same name by Andrew Klavan, Don’t Say a Word was a box office hit with a gross of $100 million against a budget of $50 million. The film received negative reviews, but many praised Murphy’s work as the supporting character Elisabeth Burrows. The actor received a nomination at the Satellite Awards for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role, Drama.
GIANT FREAKIN MOVIE SCORE: 4.35/10
RIDING IN CARS WITH BOYS (2001)
2001 was a big year for Brittany Murphy, as she added the biographical drama Riding in Cars with Boys to her filmography. Starring alongside Drew Barrymore and Steve Zahn, and director Penny Marshall’s last film, Murphy portrayed Fay Forrester, the best friend of Barrymore’s Bev Donofrio. Bev and Fay get pregnant at the same time and at young ages, forcing them both to get married to their respective significant others.
Riding in Cars with Boys was a high-profile film that didn’t end up faring well at the box office. Tailor-made for Drew Barrymore, the movie was also a stepping stone for Brittany Murphy to demonstrate her sweet side as an actor while juggling other projects that depicted psychological problems in many of her characters.
This time around, she portrayed a young mother desperate to care for her best friend while trying to achieve many of her own goals in life.
GIANT FREAKIN MOVIE SCORE: 5.7/10
8 MILE (2002)
Acting is tough, but performing alongside the world’s greatest rapper while retaining a level of sex appeal is even more challenging. But not for Brittany Murphy, who shines bright as aspiring model Alex Laterno in 8 Mile opposite Eminem. Director Curtis Hanson helmed 8 Mile as a starring production for real-life rapper Eminem, displaying the Detroit rap battle scene of the early 2000s.
Brittany Murphy added to the ensemble cast of 8 Mile by giving her filmography a necessary push in the direction of music. A trained singer, Murphy plays Eminem’s love interest with a bit of a nasty side to her. Buzzfeed reports that Brittany Murphy admitted to David Letterman once that she had an off-screen romance with Eminem while filming.
8 Mile was a huge hit when it was released in theaters, grossing over $242 million against a budget of $41 million. The movie went on to become the highest-grossing R-rated film up to that point. That record was beaten by The Matrix Reloaded the following year.
GIANT FREAKIN MOVIE SCORE: 7.3/10
JUST MARRIED (2003)
After several years that saw Brittany Murphy tackle more dramatic roles in her filmography, the actor decided to take a step in the direction of comedies again.
In a career full of supporting roles, Murphy had the chance to star in a romantic comedy called Just Married alongside Ashton Kutcher. Directed by future Free Guy helmer Shawn Levy, Just Married centered around a couple on their honeymoon in Europe and all of the obstacles putting a strain on their new marriage.
While Just Married received negative reviews from critics, the star power of Brittany Murphy and Ashton Kutcher together could not be stopped. The movie grossed over $100 million at the box office, and rumors that the two actors had fallen for one another while filming sparked interest in the film. The two confirmed their relationship and dated for a short time.
GIANT FREAKIN MOVIE SCORE: 3.7/10
UPTOWN GIRLS (2003)
Also in 2003, Brittany Murphy starred in her own project again, this time alongside a young Dakota Fanning in the dramedy Uptown Girls. Murphy portrayed Molly Gunn, a spoiled young adult who finds herself nannying an 8-year-old girl who is much wiser beyond her years. Molly turns out to be more childish than the kid she is responsible for, leading to an unexpected turn of events for both of them.
Costarring Marley Shelton, Clueless alum Donal Daison, Heather Locklear, and Jesse Spencer, Uptown Girls was an unexpected hit of 2003. Despite overwhelmingly negative reviews of the movie, it grossed over $44 million at the box office and received praise from Roger Ebert. RogerEbert.com notes that Ebert believed Murphy had the spirit of Lucille Ball in Uptown Girls, stating in his review, “Murphy has a kind of divine ineptitude that moves beyond Marilyn’s helplessness into Lucy’s dizzy livability.”
GIANT FREAKIN MOVIE SCORE: 3.7/10
LITTLE BLACK BOOK (2004)
Continuing to the trend that Brittany Murphy could add more comedies to her filmography, she was the main character in the 2004 satirical dramedy Little Black Book. This time, Murphy upped her game by leading an ensemble cast that included veteran actors Holly Hunter, Kathy Bates, and Ron Livingston, and a cameo by singer Carly Simon.
Portraying the role of Stacy Holt, Murphy embodied a talk show host producer who finds her boyfriend’s little black book with the names and numbers of his ex-girlfriends. Curious about why he still has their information, Stacy goes on a journey of self-discovery and questions everything she has worked hard to achieve.
For her performance as Stacy in Little Black Book, Brittany Murphy was nominated for Choice Movie Actress: Drama at the Teen Choice Awards. Unfortunately, she lost the award to Rachel McAdams, who had starred in the romantic drama The Notebook with then-boyfriend Ryan Gosling.
GIANT FREAKIN MOVIE SCORE: 3.75/10
SIN CITY (2005)
To play the role of Shellie in directors Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez’s Sin City, Brittany Murphy had to get comfortable being a supporting player again in a significant ensemble event. The noir crime epic was based on Miller’s graphic novel and costarred heavyweight actors like Jessica Alba, Mickey Rourke, Elijah Wood, Bruce Willis, Clive Owen, and Benicio del Toro.
A barmaid by trade and girlfriend to Josh Brolin’s Dwight McCarthy, Shellie was a dream role for Brittany Murphy and her expanding filmography. Filmed in black-and-white to match the tone of Frank Miller’s graphic novel, Sin City is considered an anthology movie with three distinct parts. Out of everyone involved, Murphy is the only actor that appears in all three main stories.
Sin City was so successful that a sequel was made in 2014 entitled Sin City: A Dame to Kill For. The character of Shellie would have been featured prominently in the sequel, but Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez chose to retire the character. Since Brittany Murphy had passed away five years prior, the directors believed the character should be retired out of respect for the actor’s legacy.
GIANT FREAKIN MOVIE SCORE: 7.9/10
ACROSS THE HALL (2009)
By the time Brittany Murphy had finished her work on Sin City, the rest of her filmography and acting career had turned towards direct-to-DVD releases. However, Murphy released the horror film Across the Hall in theaters the year she died. Directed by Alex Merkin, Across the Hall starred Brittany Murphy as June, who is accused of cheating on her fiancee Terry (Danny Pino).
June is a beautiful young woman Terry follows to a hotel, and Terry ropes his best friend (Mike Vogel) into the investigation. The presumption that she is cheating on him leads the characters into a downward spiral of accusations and danger. Across the Hall is one of Brittany Murphy’s last films that she ended up acting in, and the movie was released a couple of months before she died.
GIANT FREAKIN MOVIE SCORE: 5.45/10