HBO Max has ordered a two-part docu-series about the late actress Brittany Murphy. Produced by Blumhouse Television and Pyramid Productions, the currently untitled project will take a nuanced look at her life, career, and untimely death in 2009.
The docu-series will be directed by Cynthia Hill, who earned an Emmy nomination for Private Violence, a 2014 documentary about domestic violence against women. It makes sense that HBO would bring on personnel like Hill and Blumhouse — the production company that helmed Get Out, Paranormal Activity, and The Purge — because Murphy’s life story has a tragically dark conclusion.
After becoming a rising star in the ’90s after her breakout role in Clueless, Murphy went on to star in aughts-era classics like Just Married and 8 Mile, while also voicing the character Luanne Platter in King of the Hill. She was at the apex of her career when she allegedly collapsed in her bathroom in December 2009, and her death was determined to be caused by pneumonia, anemia, and “multiple drug intoxication” (via Deadline). She was just 32 years old.
Then, a few months later, her surviving husband was also found dead in the same house from pneumonia and anemia. The bizarre circumstances created a flurry of conspiracy theories and tabloid gossip, and the documentary aims to set the record straight and approach her life and death with a more respectful, level-headed perspective.
“Our Brittany Murphy documentary cuts through the tabloid noise with an elevated, nuanced depiction of a sensational story,” said Jennifer O’Connell, HBO Max’s Executive Vice President, Non-Fiction and Live-Action Family Programming. “Crafting a grounded account of Brittany Murphy’s life struggles and sudden passing comes with great responsibility and we’ve partnered with a masterful creative team to produce a thoughtful examination of a tragedy that has long been cause for speculation.”
In an official synopsis, HBO promises that “the series will go beyond the conspiracy theories and headlines, featuring new interviews by those closest to Brittany and new archival footage.”
“Brittany Murphy was a rising star whose filmography includes movies that defined a generation,” said Mary Lisio, Blumhouse Television’s Executive Vice President, Alternative and Non-Scripted Programming. “We thought her story warrants a deeper exploration, and examination into the environment that allowed her to become a victim of success.”
In her statement, Hill expressed how important it was for her to use the project to highlight Murphy’s successful career, not just zoom in on her mysterious death.
“I agreed to do this film because I think it’s a shame that Brittany’s promising life and career has been eclipsed by the circumstances of her death,” she said. “I think it’s important to celebrate Brittany’s talent as we struggle to explain the tragic circumstances of her and Simon’s deaths.”
The series is notably the first collaboration between HBO Max and Blumhouse Television. The production company had previously teamed up with Pyramid Productions for the Epix docuseries Fall River.