Brittany Murphy: All Grown Up

It's a classic coming-of-age story: Falling for the wrong guy, figuring out where you went wrong and finally finding yourself. That story line is not only the plot of Brittany Murphy's new movie Uptown Girls, it's also the one playing out in her real life. Just ask her costar Donald Faison, who first met Brittany on the set of Clueless nearly 10 years ago when she played an ugly duckling to Alicia Silverstone's poised, popular Cher. "It's like she's gone through that Clueless makeover as Tai," says Faison. "But now she's Cher."

When you meet Murphy in person, the most surprising thing about her is how strikingly different she is from the characters she plays. Wearing a fitted black blazer with white ribbon trim, sleek jeans and classic black heels, she looks more Jackie O than the kind of girl who has a warehouse quickie with the likes of Eminem in 8 Mile. (Guess that's why it's called "acting." Go figure.)

We sat down and talked with the star of the movie Uptown Girls about everything from baby fat to boyfriends (counting how many she's had, Brittany says they number exactly "four and a half").

Okay, let's start with something that people can't stop talking about. You seem to have lost weight. Have you?
No. I actually have never lost a large chunk of weight in my life. I've been the same weight since I was in Girl Interrupted, and I was padded for that film.

Really?
Yes, so there is a very common misconception there. I've always been a squirt, the tiniest one in class. The one with toothpick legs in the dance recital pictures. Sure, my post-pubescent moment was immortalized forever in Clueless. That was my most awkward phase. But I'm proud of it. I was 15 and that was nearly ten years ago. Your face changes. I think that a lot of people don't seem to get it. I mean, I've tweezed my eyebrows since then. [laughs] You know, my hair color is different. All those little things can add up to a big physical change.

Is there industry pressure to stay slim?
So I've read. But I have never felt that because I consider myself a character actor. I've never had to gain weight for a role. I've been padded every time I've had to be bigger than I actually was.

As a character actor, you've started to get a lot of leading roles. How do you approach them?
I look at it as the same thing, just a different sized trailer.

Is that a cross you're wearing?
Yes. I'm a Christian. I go to church when I can -- not enough. I was raised Baptist but I'm a nondenominational practicing Christian. I have a lot of faith.

Are you a big kid?
Aren't we all?

Not Dakota [Fanning, her nine-year-old Uptown Girls costar].
Oh, she's the best at being nine of anyone I've ever seen! Dakota is a ray of sunshine and wise beyond her years. Her soul is so old and beautiful. She's so intuitive and aware of other people. I think that's one of the things that make her such a brilliant actress. You can talk to her like she's your best girlfriend. But you can't forget she's nine.

Your wardrobe was great in the movie. Which was your favorite?
The clothes were amazing. My dear friend designs for Anna Molanari and my favorite outfit was the dress I wore for the opening scene.

If you could change anything about yourself, what would it be?
That's a tough question. Why would I want to change? I don't want to change. I mean, everyone has little things. I'd want to be really tall for a day. That's kind of a superficial thing. I'm five-foot-three. Or, maybe it would be fun to be a man for a day. That would be interesting. Obviously I don't want to change into a man. [laughs] Hmm. Maybe I should say that I would be able to answer questions quicker. [laughs again]

What other projects do you have coming up?
The next film I'm making is called Little Black Book. It's a great ensemble with Holly Hunter and Kathy Bates. Ron Livingstone plays my boyfriend. It's thematically a mixture between Broadcast News and My Best Friend's Wedding. It's basically about raising chaos. You can't avoid it.

Speaking of life lessons, is it hard to get over a breakup when the guy [Demi Moore's new main squeeze, Ashton Kutcher] is on the cover of every magazine?
No. Not for me. Not in this case.

Do you have any positive messages for younger girls who will see this movie for help getting over a breakup?
Well, I will only talk about relationships in general. It's good to have a broken heart sometimes. It's good to be the heartbreaker. It's good to be on both ends because it's a growing experience. If I were to give a younger person some advice, I think the most important thing is just to learn. Learn why it didn't work and don't allow it to happen again. And don't give someone your power. Those can be some of the most growing times, but don't give yourself away to anyone.

This is also a big message in Uptown Girls. My character, Molly, gives and gives and gives of herself until she has nothing else to give. And it takes the most unlikely relationship with an eight-year-old for her to realize, Wait a second. I have to trust my instincts, believe in myself and be true to myself to actually be able to give the way I want to give in life and be the person I want to be. And be the balanced person I'd like to be.

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