By Kathy Ehrich
August 04, 2004 06:00 AM

Brittany Murphy’s a curious woman, but not as neurotic as the one she plays in Little Black Book, her new movie about tracking down her boyfriend’s past loves. The 26-year-old actress – who once dated her Just Married costar Ashton Kutcher and was engaged for four months earlier this year to manager Jeff Kwatinetz – is actually friends with an old flame’s ex-girlfriend, and Murphy swears she’s not the jealous type. The actress recently chatted about having such a high-profile love life, dealing with the tabloids and experiencing her “I can’t believe it!” moment with fame.

Do you ask boyfriends about past relationships?
I happen to ask. I’m curious. Curiosity did kill the cat, but I’m very curious. I always ask tons and tons of questions in the beginning. But I’ve noticed that men don’t like hearing about ex-boyfriends because I don’t think they like envisioning women with past relationships.

Have you ever been in a relationship where you’ve heard a lot about an ex?
I’ve been in a relationship before where the guy had pictures of the ex-girlfriend up in the house and where she came by. And the ironic part is that we’re friends now and the guy isn’t part of either one of our lives. That was an unusual situation, but it made me more sensitive to my own relationships.

Should men and women keep certain secrets from each other?
Well, maybe bathroom things – things that take away from the romance.

What’s the most outrageous thing you’ve read about yourself in the tabloids?
(There was) Winona Ryder and the lesbian kiss. That was my introduction to the media, the cover of the National Enquirer. That was the first time I met a paparazzi and I didn’t know much about that kind of stuff. We just sort of kissed as a joke. I didn’t know what to do because (the photographers) were in front of the car and it was either run them down or just stay there. So I started making funny faces, and all of the sudden I was Winona Ryder’s lesbian lover. But I loved it because they called me a sexy screen siren, which is not how I see myself at all. I thought that was hysterical.

Does it seem like the tabloids are hunting you?

They don’t really. I think they can’t find too much. Try finding a story where they’re saying I’m a jerk – gosh, knock on wood, that’s just asking for bad ju ju!

Do you take Hollywood seriously?
I don’t even take myself seriously – how could I possibly take Hollywood seriously? I take business seriously. I take work very seriously and telling the truth in my job and professionalism. But I don’t think (celebrity) is supposed to be taken seriously really.

How was your USO tour in Iraq?
I was there last year, I sang. I was there with Robert De Niro, Kid Rock, Wayne Newton and the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders. It was great. I come from a military family. I was permitted two guests so I took my mom and my cousin Andrew, who is an officer in the artillery in the Marine Corps.

How’s your music going?
I’ve been working in the studio for the past year – just learning more and more what music I am going to make. I have started to do the album very slowly. … So after the film opens I’m going to take three weeks and plow through a chunk of it. It’s turning into a hybrid of jazz and hip-hop.

So, you’re a fan of hip-hop and jazz?
Yeah, my first concert was Run-D.M.C. and the Fat Boys and the second was a Rat Pack reunion tour, and my third was Al Jarreau. I grew up on lots of jazz.

Do you ever take a step back and assess how far you’ve come?
Yesterday, before I went downstairs to do an interview I was overwhelmed and had one of those, Oh my God, I can’t believe I’m in this suite, in New York, about to meet the Hollywood Foreign Press. I was very overwhelmed and I almost started crying because … my cousin was with me, and whenever we look at each other, we get emotional and kind of like, We can’t believe it!