Date of Birth: November 10, 1977
This Atlanta-born actress' parents split up when she was three and she then relocated with
her mother to Edison, New Jersey. Murphy began putting on shows when she was a toddler
and was acting in regional theater productions by the age of nine. As a preteen, Murphy
hired a manager and began making Pizza Hut and Skittles candy commercials before heading to Hollywood with her mother in 1991. Murphy landed a role in her first series, the short-lived sitcom Drexell's Class that year. The following year, she made her film debut in the dysfunctional family drama Family Prayers.
Her widest exposure came when she starred as Tai, an unpopular girl who gets a makeover from Alicia Silverstone and her friends in Clueless (1995). Murphy's talent for portraying all sorts of dysfunction was further exhibited in the Reese Witherspoon trailer trash odyssey Freeway (1996) and the made-for-TV David and Lisa (1998). Murphy won particular acclaim for her work in the latter; the story of two emotionally troubled teens (Murphy and Lukas Haas) who reach out to each other allowed the actress to prove herself in a purely dramatic role.
In 1999, Murphy portrayed a laxative-addicted mental institution patient in Girl, Interrupted. That same year, she explored the collective insanity of the beauty pageant world in Drop Dead Gorgeous, playing a contestant who'd rather be living it up in New York with her cross-dressing brother. On the small screen that year, she switched to much darker fare with the Holocaust drama The Devil's Arithmetic. In addition to the praise she has received for her film portrayals, Murphy has won a different sort of acclaim for the work she did on the animated TV series King of the Hill. As the voice of the Hills' beauty school sex kitten niece Luanne, the actress earned the kind of recognition that can only come from an animated character who was named one of the sexiest women on television by Details magazine.
She next landed a starring role opposite Drew Barrymore in Riding in Cars with Boys (2001) and as a disturbed young woman who is the only one who knows the secret number Michael Douglas needs in Don't Say A Word (2001), to save his kidnapped daughter. After playing Eminem's girlfriend in 8 Mile (2002), she decided to make the switch to lighter films with the comedy Just Married (2003), and although she dated her co-star, Ashton Kutcher, for several months, the relationship soon unravelled. She next won starring roles in two more comedies, Uptown Girls (2003) and Little Black Book before joining an all-star cast in the offbeat action crime thriller Sin City (2005).
Murphy married British screenwriter Simon Monjack in 2007.
She died on December 20, 2009 of an apparent heart attack at age 32.
Something Wicked (2010)
Across the Hall (2009)
The Ramen Girl (2008)
Happy Feet (2006) (voice)
The Dead Girl (2006)
Love and Other Disasters (2006)
The Groomsmen (2006)
Little Black Book
Good Boy! (2003) (voice)
Riding in Cars with Boys
Don't Say a Word
Sidewalks of New York
Drop Dead Gorgeous
Zack and Reba (1998)
The Prophecy II (1998)
Falling Sky (1998)
Family Prayers (1993)