Brittany Murphy

So bubbly she could carbonate Lake Michigan, Brittany Murphy works like crazy.

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Twenty-one and so bubbly she could carbonate Lake Michigan, Brittany Murphy works like crazy--in fact, she often plays crazy, as in TV's David and Lisa and in the upcoming, eagerly awaited Winona Ryder/Angelina Jolie drama Girl Interrupted.

When we spoke, Murphy had just used her day off from filming Girl Interrupted to fly to LA. for an eight-hour screen test as rock-and-blues legend Janis Joplin in Piece of My Heart, which Melissa Etheridge was originally supposed to headline (the movie was written and is being produced by Etheridge's main squeeze, Julie Cypher). "Omigod! I had the biggest blast of my life, being a rock star for a day--the rock star. And that was just the test!" Murphy must have done pretty well on her tryout for the film, because she won the part.

For the time being, though, Murphy is probably best remembered as the drudge that Alicia Silverstone made over in Clueless. And yet she spent a year on Broadway in Arthur Miller's A View From the Bridge, and she's also been in The Prophecy II ("I'm a little rocker chick that committed suicide, and Christopher Walken, because he's the Angel of Death, won't let me die"), Showtime's Holocaust drama Devil's Arithmetic ("I could never, ever get a tattoo after having those numbers on my arm"), and, most important, this spring's Drop Dead Gorgeous.

In this latest movie, a satiric mockumentary about small-town beauty pageants, Murphy plays the best friend of contender Kirsten Dunst (whom she endearingly refers to offscreen as "my little cocoa puff'). "My character's the only one in the movie with a heart, but I have to watch the finished movie to see how much. You never know how your character turns out until the movie's done," she says. Life is something like that too: "Hey, right now, I'm in the college of life. I'm only 21, and I don't know who the heck I am yet. We're all just molecules. Anyway, the movie industry's a great boot camp: you learn so much, going from one country to another, one story to another. I relish the absurdity."

Does she have a goal, or is she just going with the flow? "I wanna be a big fat fucking star! Kidding! But don't say I said fucking. Say frigging."

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Michael Atkinson



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