Saturday, November 11, 2006

Brittany Murphy: The Dead Girl (Q & A)

I got a little face time with Brittany Murphy on November 7th over at the Four Seasons. Here's What went down during the roundtable session with me and a couple of international press people...

Q: So what attracted you to the film Dead Girl in the first place?

Brittany Murphy: When Karen (Moncrieff) asked me to do it-- I was offered the role of Krista (Kutcher, the Dead Girl) and there was this script called the Dead Girl and I started reading it and I thought it would be a thriller -- a psychological thriller -- I'm reading it and I forgot, by the end of act one, even bothering, or worrying or thinking about who did it and kept reading. And in the truest sense of the statement, the journey did become my destination because these characters popped off the pages, infiltrated me and one couldn't help but read it and (feel ) like a voyeur passing different windows on a street and in one house there'll be a couple arguing and in another, you've got a child crying and another...(there's something) from every different background, every different situation and they have one common thread. I loved Krista, she was spectacular, she's so spectacular. She has so much hope, so much light and she tries so hard...she really just wants to do her best in this life and in this world to make sure that her baby is taken care of, to be a great mom-- she, unfortunately, is afflicted with a bit of mental illness and bi-polar. It's not touched upon in the script but I know it's in the work somewhere. So her being bi-polar and self-medcating herself, definitely would confuse the path that she's trying to get on. (It's) why she's living so mercurially and in the second, really, I mean not even in the minute. I thought that she was a lovely, exciting person to be able to play. I also thought that she was specifically derived from a true person, a real person that passed away, who didn't get to be represented (on screen before) and I wanted to represent that person's life-- for her and some other people.

Q: So you know about that murder case and that real person's story?

BM: Yes and I asked Karen the reason that she thought of me for this and I think it was because of prior performances and a little part of me reminded her of the girl who she sat on jury for the death of. And she saw footage on her, I can't remember if there was an aesthetic or emotional (thread) from another film or another character I'd played, but one thing was that, I'd also heard Karen's vision for her film, along with this really stunning and unique script-- it was really something that I really couldn't not be a part of. I felt really blessed to be amongst that great group of people.

Q: So, you jumped on first?

BM: I was on third, maybe. I know it was Toni (Collette), Giovanni (Ribisi) and then me.

Q: Did you do any researching for this?

BM: I did do research. Like any good journalist, I prefer to keep my (sources) confidential. The people that I did research with preferred to remain anonymous and I would like to respect their wishes...a good journalist never gives up her sources. (laughs) But I did speak with, along with the profession that Krista was in, I did speak with two drug counselors to break down the chemical imbalances that she had-- along with a doctor, a really brilliant man. And then I was able to speak to recovered and reformed users of the the drugs that Krista did in the film.

Q: How did you find the experience of researching for and performing this role? Was is sad, dark or what?

BM: I don't want to be redundant and repeat anything that Kerry (Washington might've) said but they were awesome people. There was some really incredible people and I feel grateful for the people that shared their lives with me.

Q: So, what do you do for fun ? How do you spend your money?

BM: Well that was just a non-sequitor, man! (laughter) Why does "fun" have to have anything to do with spending money? It never does. The most joy that I could possibly get in life is being around my eight nieces and nephews and family. I love it and I live with my mom and my uncle...I really love being around my family. It makes me happy.

Q: Here's better non-sequitor, for you: since you love being with your family, they must love Happy Feet.

BM: Yes, they love that! That's very good, although I do want to mention that I have a domestic day of press that's scheduled for Happy Feet, I was in Tokyo when you guys were here, so, I'd love it if you could make it-- if you can't, I thoroughly understand...we ran over two days and there was nothing I could do about it-- I was very bummed out.

Q: You've got all of these things going on, you have the Dead Girl coming out, Happy Feet on which you're singing, how do you juggle all of that? I mean, so many actresses can't seem to break out of romantic comedies.

BM: Well, I've never pigeonholed myself into any specific person or being or career plan, except for an overall dream that encompasses entertaining people. So, that's not something that I don't think I've reached the tip of the iceberg (with) as far as the different mediums that I'd like to entertain people in, so I'm really looking forward to (accomplishing) that. To me it's such a joy, singing is a joy-- I was never formally trained in acting, was never formally trained in singing and I've been singing since I was born, since as long as I can remember. As a child I sang anything from Italian arias to an old blues song. So, I sing in character for Happy Feet and there was a time when I was fourteen where I could've veered off in two different directions and done one or the other; acting or music. And I chose acting and continued writing and doing music for myself but there'll be a time when I share it with others, you know, when the time's right.

Q: Are you planning to do an album?

BM: Most definitely; I don't know when but I will.

Q: What kind of music would you record?

BM: It'd have to be a little more further executed to describe that. My first concert was Run - D.M.C. and the Fat Boys-- I was five, I wore one earring, I felt so cool. My second was the Rat Pack Reunion Tour when Dean Martin fell out and Liza Minelli stepped in, my third was Al Jarreau. So I grew up with a lot of jazz, tons and tons of jazz; from Ella Fitzgerald, Nina Simone to Billie Holiday, Chet Baker to Thelonious Monk-- you name it, everybody and...Miiiles Davis.

Q: You play any instruments at all?

BM: I could play any instrument if you gave me twenty minutes. (laughs) Pretty much, I'm good at playing by ear-- I picked up the trumpet a couple of years ago and played that. They were all worried about my lips in the (music) store.

Q: Did someone in your family have a musical bent or something?

BM: Yeah, my father's side, actually -- who I didn't grow up with at all. It's quite a testament to genetics that whole side of the family, besides my mom, have an esquisite taste in music. I (had) it around me all the time and being around it (helped with) expressing myself through it growing up. On my father's side, there's a lot of opera singers and jazz musicians, that's how I learned jazz.

Q: So, what do you listen to on the regular? What artists, anyone current?

BM: Currently, I've been in Tokyo okay, so, I made a huge collection -- music's so important to me, you know, and my iPod was stolen. And I haven't had the time to really fill a new one back up so I had this big stack of CDs that I was packing and I had to go to (shoot a film) and I was just going to put them in my suitcase and then I had this little, itsy-bitsy CD case that was the "no pile" well instead, someone put the little "no pile" in and it was hard. An actor friend of mine, before they left to shoot a film, knew that I was going crazy about my music ran out and got me some CDs. But I was listening to, in Tokyo, most recently, I can't go too-too modern but, Death Row's Greatest Hits is great because it's got everything from "No Vaseline" which, to me, is such a great battle track. I love Nas as well, he's a great battle rapper too-- that's hip hop. And Eminem is always a burst of energy. I love his second album, The Marshall Mathers LP, also Encore. And then I've been listening to Gwen Stefani a lot of Sara-Nina-Billie (Vaughan, Simone and Holiday). I do veer towards older women in my music.

Q: You said you produced The Ramen Girl and starred in it as well, could you give a little background on that?

BM: It's about a girl that drops out of law school and goes to Tokyo, Japan to be with her boyfriend of a few years. He then has to go to Osaka, not terribly far but a couple of hours away, on a business trip and he doesn't know when he's coming back and the apartment's paid up. She's feeling stuck there and so she decides to stay...(somebody walks in to tell her that she has to leave to do the red carpet thing for the film's premiere across town-- but Brittany continues after she leaves)...so, she meets some folks -- an American girl who's working as a hostess and a British guy -- they're this unique breed of people who, for lack of a better term, are aimless wanderers and she sort of falls into being an aimless wanderer for a moment. And then she sees this red lantern across the street when she's chain-smoking on her patio and it's this little ramen shop. And she goes to it and, obviously, she doesn't speak Japanese and she decides to ask the man who runs the place to be her Sensei in Ramen which is a really ancient art -- it actually originated in China but it's (also) an ancient Japanese art form. You see how the intricacies of Japanese culture truly do affect this girl and she utilizes it for the good in her life. And instead of, how some other people ended up there, not being a part of (the Japanese culture) she (embraces) it and it enables her to move on. It's really a Japanese film, half of it's (subtitled) in Japanese-- I'm the only person speaking in English the entire three quarters of the film.

Q: You mentioned earlier that you were very close to your mother. What was the most valuable thing that she taught you when you were growing up?

BM: To have a sense of humor about life. To not take myself too seriously. Through example, being a strong, independent woman. There's a great Maya Angelou quote: "I am woman, phenomenally. Phenomenal woman, that is me." And I think of my mom when I hear that. And if I could be a third of the woman that she is and have a third of the strength that she has, then, I would have done good by this life.

-- The Dead Girl is set for national release on December 29th.

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