Brittany Murphy and her husband Simon Monjack’s friends and family have shared new details about their troubled relationship, revealing their attempts to stop her from marrying him and accusations that he is to blame for her death.
The couple’s marriage and the conspiracy theories surrounding their tragic deaths will be explored in the HBO Max documentary What Happed to Brittany Murphy?, which premieres on October 14.
Multiple people close to Murphy and Monjack were profiled in the two-part series including his mother, brother, and former fiancée Elizabeth Ragsdale, who holds him responsible for the actress’ downfall.
‘Even if he did not kill Brittany Murphy, he allowed her to die because he did not get her to the doctor and get her help,’ Ragsdale said in the documentary, the New York Post reported.
Brittany Murphy’s relationship with her husband Simon Monjack and their tragic deaths will be explored in the HBO Max documentary What Happed to Brittany Murphy?
Murphy died in the hospital in December 2009 at age 32 after collapsing in the bathroom of her Hollywood Hills mansion. The coroner’s report ruled the death was accidental, citing a combination of pneumonia, over-the-counter drugs, and prescribed medications.
Five months later, Monjack, a virtually unknown British screenwriter, died in similar circumstances in the same house at age 40. Murphy’s mother Sharon, who was living with the couple, was supposedly present both times.
Ragsdale had a short courtship and quick engagement with Monjack before their relationship came crashing down. She said he manipulated her and isolated her, claiming he refused to get her medical help when she needed it.
According to his ex, he told her he had cancer so she would get pregnant, and then when she flew to New York to start their family, he left her.
Filmmaker Allison Burnett (left) and makeup artist Trista Jordan (right) were both interviewed for the two-part documentary, which premieres on October 14
Filmmaker Allison Burnett called Monjack a ‘bottom-feeding sociopath,’ saying he reached out to Murphy’s agency to warn the British screenwriter was a compulsive liar
‘When I got to my little studio in New York, I called him and he answered. I said, “Simon, I’ve made it to…” and before I could get that sentence out, he hung up on me. He left me pregnant and abandoned,’ she said.
Ragsdale also alleged that Monjack threatened to take their son away if she revealed their past relationship to Murphy.
‘The stakes were a lot higher with him being married to Brittany,’ she said. ‘He didn’t need anybody to know that I was out there with his son. I know why Brittany chose Simon. He worked his spell on her and she fell for it, like I did.’
Those close to Murphy described Mojack as being ‘disturbed’ and a ‘sociopath’ while recalling the negative effect their relationship had on the Clueless star.
In the documentary, Murphy’s King of the Hill co-star Kathy Najimy recalled her horrified reaction to the actress’ relationship with Monjack
‘[People] were scared and freaked out. Like, who was this guy and what was happening?’ Najimy said. ‘She wanted to marry him, and I said, “Honey, it’s not been long enough”
In the documentary, filmmaker Allison Burnett opened up about the first time he met Monjack at a dinner party in 1999, years before his relationship with Murphy.
Burnett said Monjack lied about dating Madonna and Elle Macpherson, owning 17 Ferraris, and surviving terminal brain cancer after buying an experimental treatment derived from shark fins.
It was clear to him that Monjack was using the woman he was dating at the time for her money, and he tried to steer Murphy away from him when he found out they were involved years later.
‘I couldn’t believe that this bottom-feeding sociopath had actually worked his way up the food chain to someone who’s actually a legitimate artist,’ he said.
Burnett was so concerned about Murphy’s involvement with him that he called her agency, warning that Monjack was a compulsive liar.
‘The word coming back was that her manager had tried [doing that] and had gotten fired as a result,’ he said.
Murphy and Monjack reportedly started dating in 2006 following her split from her fiance Joe Macaluso, whom she met on set of their 2004 film Little Black book.
Loved ones worried she was moving too fast with Monjack and being taken advantage of by a con artist, including her King of the Hill co-star Najimy.
‘[People] were scared and freaked out. Like, who was this guy and what was happening?’ Najimy recalled in the documentary. ‘She wanted to marry him, and I said, “Honey, it’s not been long enough.”‘
Those interviewed claimed that Murphy and Monjack stayed in their home ’24/7′ and that ‘no one got close to her’ after she was with him.
Despite everyone’s concerns, Murphy married Monjack in April 2007 during a small Jewish ceremony attended by family members.
Months before her death, she opened up about her relationship with Monjack in a 2009 interview with OK! magazine and how she hoped to one day be a mom.
‘We met when I was 17 years old,’ she said. ‘We checked in with each other throughout the years and remained friends. The easiest decision I ever had in my life was getting married.’
But, according to those close to her, she didn’t seem happy, and the marriage also affected her career. There were rumors that Mojack made her difficult to work with.
Director Alex Merkin, who worked with Murphy on the 2009 film Across the Hall, opened up about how she would exhibit ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ behavior.
‘Brittany would come to set and be in a really good space, and then I would see her go off with Simon,’ he said in the documentary. ‘When she came back, I felt a stark change in her mood.’
The documentary also touched her alarmingly thin frame, which many believe was the result of the pressure to look like a leading lady.
‘Brittany Murphy was super cute, but in Hollywood you have to be Gwyneth Paltrow,’ one person explained.
Murphy began her career in 1991, and was notably featured in the Fox sitcom Drexell’s Class, which premiered that year.
She later moved on to film roles, famously playing Tai in the 1995 hit Clueless. She went on to star in a number of successful films, including Drop Dead Gorgeous, Cherry Falls, and 8 Mile.
In the early 2000s, tabloids linked her extreme weight loss to cocaine, but she denied using drugs and also insisted she didn’t have an eating disorder.
Ragsdale speculated that Monjack contributed to her unhealthy behavior in the last years of her life, saying he ‘loved anorexic women.’
Those who worked with Murphy in her finals years recalled her being a shell of her former self.
‘I didn’t recognize her anymore,’ Najimy said. ‘Brittany was cloudy and gone.’
Makeup artist Trista Jordan shared a similar sentiment while reflecting on working with Murphy on her final film, Something Wicked, which came out in 2014, more than four years after her death.
‘She wasn’t herself. She was in so much pain,’ Jordan said. ‘[Her eyes] were so sunken, and she just seemed so sad.’
Hollywood coroner Ed Winter, who was in charge of Murphy’s case, said her death could have been avoided if she was taken to the hospital.
‘The cause of death is not a mystery. The mystery is, why didn’t somebody catch it? Had they taken her to the doctor a few days before, she would still be alive,’ he said.
Winter also noted that he was told Monjack would often keep Murphy up all hours of the night, which added to her health issues.
‘She wasn’t getting enough rest and her immune system was dropping,’ he explained.
The coroner’s report stated that the primary cause of her death was pneumonia. It was also revealed that she had been suffering from the effects of iron deficiency, anemia, and was using various over-the-counter drugs and prescribed medications that contributed to her passing.
Months later, Monjack was found dead in the couple’s home, and his death was also attributed to pneumonia and anemia.
Winter, who also handled Michael Jackson’s overdose, dismissed Murphy’s mother Sharon’s claims that toxic mold in the property had killed them, pointing to their unhealthy lifestyles.
Murphy and Monjack’s shocking deaths fueled tabloid rumors for a lengthy period and sparked a number of conspiracy theories that she was murdered.
There’s little concrete evidence to support that she was killed, but the fact remains that after Murphy started dating, then marrying, Monjack her life turned for the worse.
‘He was a disturbed individual who was used to conning people and Brittany was one of his last victims,’ said Cynthia Hill, who directed What Happed to Brittany Murphy?
‘There was a pattern of behavior that became very obvious the more research that we did.’