Brittany Murphy is a self-proclaimed goof ball.
"Oh, yeah - I'm a big old goof," she says, giggling as she takes in the sights of the Magnificent Mile from a horse-drawn carriage. "So the fact that someone is paying me to be one kind of blows my mind."
Murphy is talking about her latest film, Uptown Girls, which opened nationwide Friday. She plays the spoiled rich daughter of a deceased rock star who, after being swindled out of her inheritance, takes a job as the nanny of a precocious kid (Dakota Fanning).
In the comedy Murphy, 25, does her best Lucille Ball impersonation. There's Murphy being hit in the face with a swinging door. There's Murphy, wearing a 1950s-style I Love Lucy scarf around her head, nearly burning down the kitchen as she attempts to cook for the first time. Oh, no - Murphy has put too much detergent in the washing machine!
There's Murphy falling down, over and over again.
"I call her Brittany 'Pratfall' Murphy," says co-star Marley Shelton.
Apparently her latest role isn't much of a stretch for the affable Murphy, who played one of Alicia Silverstone's buddies in 1995's Clueless and earlier this year played another goofball in Just Married, which also starred then-boyfriend Ashton Kutcher. Those roles are a contrast to the serious ones she played in 2001's Don't Say a Word, which starred Michael Douglas, and last year's 8 Mile, in which she played Eminem's girlfriend.
"She's pretty versatile," says Uptown Girls producer Fisher Stevens. "But Brittany loves comedy, and she likes to have fun. All that stuff - tripping in heels, falling in soapsuds - all of it was written in the script but Brittany really embraced it. And any opportunity for humor, we wanted to put in the movie."
Just how much did Murphy embrace it? She did most of her own stunts.
"There was never really a stunt coordinator, which is why I got so many bruises," Murphy says as she inspects her body. "There was this one fall, which was the only time there was a stunt coordinator on set. The rest of it was just clumsiness. My mom dies laughing at me."
So does the 29-year-old Shelton. Murphy and Shelton, who first met five years ago, became the best of friends during shooting. It was Shelton who introduced Murphy to her current boyfriend, playfully known as "the guy who replaced Ashton." Murphy doesn't like to talk much about her much-talked-about relationship with Kutcher, who since has been linked with Demi Moore. Murphy and Kutcher were the darlings of the tabloids while promoting Just Married.
"The most important thing is having a sense of humor about it, especially when it's wildly inaccurate information," Murphy says of the experience. "I truly had blinders on throughout the situation. It's not my style to talk about it. I am a very private person."
Murphy has no problems keeping her sense of humor, especially when she's with Shelton. They regularly giggle like a couple of schoolgirls. They even finish each other's sentences. "We're overzealous acquaintances," both say without missing a beat, laughing as they look at each other.
When Murphy tells a story about almost being named "Aisha," from the Stevie Wonder song "Isn't She Lovely" - then sings a few bars - Shelton chimes in, "Doesn't she have a great singing voice?" And when Murphy attempts to explain her distinctive accent (she was born in Georgia but raised in New Jersey), Shelton playfully interrupts, "I'm going to call you 'Jersey Belle' from now on," to which Murphy replies, "That could be a good rap alias." They giggle as they attempt to make up a rap song.
It's even suggested the two could be the next Lucy and Ethel.
"Who's Lucy and who's Ethel?" Shelton asks Murphy.
"Quite frankly, you're more Lucy than I am in real life," Murphy replies, still giggling about the rap song. "I'm just the one who falls down a lot."
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