Why Brittany Murphy Was Warned About Simon Monjack

When we're caught in the bliss of a new romance, it can be easy to miss the warning signs that seem so obvious once things go south. That's why it's useful to have friends and family offer their objective take on a new lover — even though their advice often goes ignored. To quote a wise cartoon owl: "When you look at someone through rose-colored glasses, all the red flags just look like flags." That certainly seemed to be the case when Brittany Murphy paired up with Simon Monjack, at least according to a new HBO Max documentary about her life.

Aptly named "What Happened, Brittany Murphy?", the documentary, per Daily Mail, takes an in-depth look at the "Clueless" actor's childhood and career, including the revelation that her nearest and dearest vocally disapproved of her fast-track romance with Monjack – not that their opinions made much difference to Murphy's resolve to wed him. Speaking to OK! magazine in 2009, she claimed that "the easiest decision" she ever made was walking down the aisle. 

Tragically, only a few months after that interview, Murphy was found dead inside the Los Angeles home she shared with her husband. Although ruled accidental, her untimely death had many side-eyeing Monjack, who was undoubtedly unpopular with her friends. So, what exactly was it about the practically anonymous director that set off alarm bells in Murphy's inner circle?

Friends felt that Simon Monjack was trying to 'control' Brittany Murphy

In the 2000s, Brittany Murphy had the world at her fingertips: she enjoyed a string of box-office hits, romances with the likes of "Just Married" co-star Ashton Kutcher, and her status as Hollywood it-girl seemed all but cemented. So, when she paired up virtually overnight with unknown British screenwriter Simon Monjack, those close to her were surprised and concerned. Her "King of the Hill" co-star, Kathy Najimy, expressed alarm at how fast the relationship was moving in "What Happened, Brittany Murphy?"(via Daily Mail), especially considering she had broken off her engagement to production assistant Joe Macaluso just a few months prior.

But others suspected Monjack was targeting Murphy for her star power. Filmmaker Alison Burnett, who met Monjack back in 1999, described him to HBO Max as a "bottom-feeding sociopath" who compulsively lied about everything from dating Madonna to owning 17 Ferraris. Similarly, Alex Merkin, Murphy's director in "Across the Hall," noted in the documentary (via Us Weekly) that their dynamic was "completely unhealthy, something that felt delusional on some level. A manipulative ploy on his part to control her and to keep his hooks in her."

Desperate to save the "Girl, Interrupted" star from making a huge mistake, her friends even tried to stage an intervention. Unfortunately this failed, and resulted in Murphy growing even more isolated from her world outside of Monjack. "Simon took her away. ... He made sure no one could get to her," friend Lisa Rieffel recalled (via E! News). 

Were friends correct to warn Brittany Murphy about Simon Monjack?

What could have been a run-of-the-mill story about falling for the wrong guy took a heartbreaking turn when Brittany Murphy succumbed to pneumonia, anemia, and a mixture of drugs at the age of 32 in 2009, per CNN. Despite mutterings that Simon Monjack was somehow involved, the coroner ruled out any foul play. Then, in an extremely strange twist to an already tragic story, Monjack himself was found dead just five months later from similar causes, per CNN

While crucial questions about their relationship dynamic and unusual deaths remain unanswered, the rise of internet sleuths and true crime enthusiasts has led to a wave of lurid conspiracy theories about what "really" happened, no doubt causing both Murphy and Monjack's families and friends to experience extreme distress.

In reality, the only people who know what took place are no longer able to share their side of the story. Perhaps, rather than speculating, we should celebrate and remember Murphy for who she was: a bright, talented actor who left us too soon.