"She just taught me to always have fun," said Dakota Fanning of Brittany Murphy, who died in 2009

By Benjamin VanHoose
July 16, 2020 10:05 AM
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Dakota Fanning remembers her late costar, Brittany Murphy, as "playful" and "fun."

On Wednesday, the Alienist actress, 26, appeared on Watch What Happens Live, opening up about working with Murphy on the 2003 film Uptown Girls. In the movie, Fanning played strong-willed 8-year-old Ray, with Murphy starring as her hapless yet caring nanny, Molly.

"She just taught me to always have fun," recalled Fanning. "She was, like, such a ray of light and had such a playful spirit. So I think, just, she made every day special for me. She was so wonderful."

Murphy died suddenly on Dec. 20, 2009, at age 32. The young star collapsed in the bathroom of her Hollywood Hills home after battling flu-like symptoms for a few days. She cried: "Mommy, I can’t catch my breath. Help me," before passing out in the arms of her mother, Sharon, and husband Simon Monjack, her mother recalled, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Monjack was found dead five months later at age 40.

Born in Atlanta, Murphy starred in a number of major movies over the years, including Clueless (1995), 8 Mile (2002), Girl, Interrupted (1999) and Just Married (2003), in which she starred alongside her real-life boyfriend at the time, Ashton Kutcher.

Brittany Murphy and Dakota Fanning in Uptown Girls (2003)
MGM/ Everett

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Fifteen years after Uptown Girls, Fanning posted a tribute to Murphy on Instagram in 2018, remembering how her supportive costar ensured she was enjoying her time making the film.

"#fbf Brittany Murphy was a ray of sunshine that made every day of filming magical for me. #uptowngirls ☀️," she wrote alongside an on-set photo of the two striking a pose and smiling together.

Helmed by Remember the Titans director Boaz Yakin, Uptown Girls also starred Heather Locklear, Jesse Spencer, Marley Shelton and Donald Faison, who also shared the screen with Murphy in Clueless.

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In March 2019, Alicia SilverstonePaul Rudd, Faison and Breckin Meyer had a Clueless reunion at the Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo (C2E2), where they remembered Murphy 24 years after making the iconic high school comedy.

“She was so incredibly talented,” said Meyer. “Ridiculously talented. Like, you see [her in Clueless], and then you watch 8 Mile, and you’re like, ‘That’s the same person?’”

“She could sing, she could dance …” said Faison, as Rudd added at the time: “She was a sweet person too. She was just always so smiley and sweet.”

Silverstone said: “She was so good. I love when she says, ‘You’re a virgin who can’t drive.’ It’s just one of my favorite moments of the whole movie.”