Director Claims Brittany Murphy ‘Had A Lot Of Demons’ While Working On Rom-Com

Brittany Murphy in Love and Other Disasters
(Image credit: EuropaCorp)

One of the ‘90s and ‘00s' brightest stars was Brittany Murphy, who famously starred in beloved films like Clueless, Girl, Interrupted and 8 Mile. Sadly in 2009, the world was rocked by her sudden death at the age 32. As some of the circumstances surrounding her death remain a mystery to this day, one director behind one of her romantic comedies recalled his experience working with the late actress. And he claims that Murphy "had a lot of demons" while working on the rom-com.

Documentary filmmaker Alek Keshishian helmed the 2006 romantic comedy Love and Other Disasters. Brittany Murphy headlined the film, during a a time at which some noted that the actress had lost a sizable amount of weight. While speaking to The Independent, Keshishian said this about his former collaborator:

Brittany was an amazing light. But she had a lot of demons. I was making [Love and Other Disasters] in the city I loved, with an amazing crew and an amazing producer, but it was troubled. Because I had a troubled actress in the lead.

The movie, which is about an assistant at British Vogue who helps a group of her friends find love, was shot in London and also starred Matthew Rhys, Catherine Tate and included cameos from Gwyneth Paltrow and Orlando Bloom. Alek Keshishian claimed that he could see that Brittany  Murphy was struggling during production and says it contributed to the movie becoming “his worst experience in filmmaking.” Keshishian continued: 

I was protective of her. I considered shutting down the movie, but that would have put 70 crew members out of work. So we carried on. I think that affected me.

Love and Other Disasters went on to premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival to dismal reviews and later flopped at the box office. It would also mark the end of the director's work with narrative films. The Madonna: Truth or Dare helmer has since returned to his documentary filmmaking roots, most recently helming the emotional Selena Gomez doc My Mind & Me, which can now be streamed using an Apple TV+ subscription.

Thirteen years after Brittany Murphy’s death, we don’t know for sure what was going on with the actress during her final years. Once Murphy noticeably had dropped pounds, rumors swirled that she was allegedly using cocaine and/or was suffering from an eating disorder. The actress denied both of those assumptions.

Murphy collapsed in the bathroom of her home in Hollywood Hills on December 20, 2009 after dealing with flu-like symptoms for a few days. She reportedly passed out in the arms of her mother and husband, Simon Monjack. The autopsy ruled her death to be the result of pneumonia combined with anemia and "multiple drug intoxication" from prescription and over-the-counter medication, per People.  

Five months after the Uptown Girls star's death, Murphy’s mother, Sharon, found her husband dead at the age of 40 in the same bedroom where she died. His cause of death was determined to be the same as his wife's. 

In the 2021 HBO Max documentary What Happened, Brittany Murphy?, it was alleged by colleagues of the actress that Simon Monjack was a con artist and isolated Murphy from other people by doing things like disconnecting phone lines. Murphy’s father echoed a popular conspiracy theory about her death, which is that she might have been poisoned. The doc, however, debunked those rumors, and the coroner interviewed for it shared that he believes if she had gone to the hospital a few days earlier, she may be alive today. 

Other projects, like the 2014 Lifetime movie on Brittany Murphy, have attempted to illuminate her life, though it's likely that we'll never have concrete answers. When it comes to Alek Keshishian, he seemed to have entered the late star's life at what was allegedly a turbulent time. It's sad that she's no longer with us, but her legacy will certainly live on through the beloved female-led buddy comedy Clueless, Love and Other Disasters and the rest of her body of work.

Sarah El-Mahmoud
Staff Writer

Sarah El-Mahmoud has been with CinemaBlend since 2018 after graduating from Cal State Fullerton with a degree in Journalism. In college, she was the Managing Editor of the award-winning college paper, The Daily Titan, where she specialized in writing/editing long-form features, profiles and arts & entertainment coverage, including her first run-in with movie reporting, with a phone interview with Guillermo del Toro for Best Picture winner, The Shape of Water. Now she's into covering YA television and movies, and plenty of horror. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.