Factory Girl Director on Murphy Husband Simon Monjack: 'A Con Man and a Bad Guy'


The sad, startling death of Brittany Murphy raises many questions about the actress's health and mental state in the months leading up to it. As we mentioned earlier, as recently as last April she was thin, but in seemingly good, fake-Limey spirits on a visit to The Late Late Show. But The Wrap reports that more recently the actress had been fired from The Caller, a horror film shooting in Puerto Rico, and that on another recent shoot -- for an indie thriller called Something Wicked -- Murphy was reportedly unfocused and barely able to complete her takes. The LA County Coroner said "foul play is not suspected," despite the presence of investigators at her home. (No illegal substances were found, but "a lot" of prescription drugs were.) And TMZ reports that in the hours before her death the actress was "very ill ... with flu-like symptoms," and had been vomiting Sunday morning. An autopy is currently underway, notably against the wishes of her husband Simon Monjack. And what of Monjack, the actual-Limey screenwriter credited with writing and producing 2006's Factory Girl, who himself had his own emergency brushes with death? Well, according to Girl director George Hickenlooper, Monjack is a "con man and a bad guy" who embezzled $150k from the film's budget.

In two comments posted to Hollywood Elsewhere in the hours since Murphy's death, the director minced no words in his description of Monjack as a career criminal and destructive influence, about whom he'd warned Murphy on multiple occasion.

The first comment:

Simon Monjack did not produce Factory Girl. He sued his way onto the project for a title and stole 150K out of my budget. He is a con man and a bad guy. When Brittany married him I warned her and warned her as did so many others. I only hope to God that this creep wasn't instrumental in her sad sad demise. What a wonderful wonderful girl she was. I really really cared for her.

In a second, longer comment posted five hours later, Hickenlooper detailed the lawsuit Monjack brought against him that held Factory "hostage," and a telephone exchange with Murphy -- whom he calls a "sweet angel" and "underrated actress" -- in which she begged him to take down an anti-Monjack comment he had posted to IMDb.

Simon Monjack nothing to do with 'Factory Girl' or the screenplay. He filed a frivolous lawsuit against us weeks before principal photography making bogus claims that we had stolen his script. He held us literally hostage and we were forced to settle with him as he held our production over a barrel. I posted this information on IMDB two years ago in order to warn people because Monjack was using his Factory Girl "credit" to solicit and then steal money from other investors. Then one night at three in the morning Brittany Murphy (who was a good friend and a girl I had come close to casting as Edie Sedgwick) called me in tears, begging me to take this posting down. It was going to ruin her husband. I told Brittany it was the truth and warned her, as many other did, about Monjack who had a criminal record and a long, long list of legal complaints against him. In the end I told Brittany I would do it for her and remove the post because I really cared for her as a friend. The last thing I told Brittany is "Do you know who this guy is? I mean do you really know him. Do you know what you're doing by marrying him?" At this point Brittany became angry and told me she knew Monjack better than anyone and then hung up on me. A few months later I tried to call her to see if she was alright and Monjack would not let me speak to her. I so so feared something bad would happen. I thought he might take her for all her money. Little did I know she would end up dead. Now I am not saying Monjack has anything to do with this. I wouldn't know. And I'm sure the guy is in deep mourning. But one can sure speculate that his clear lack of character and background couldn't have led to the most healthy environment. I really feel bad for Brittany. She was a sweet sweet angel and didn't deserve anything bad to happen to her ever. May she rest in peace. I will miss her. We will all miss her. She was the most talented and underrated actresses working in film.

The "long list of legal complaints" Hickenlooper refers to included multiple felony warrants for his arrest, including several for credit card fraud in Virginia, and "a massive lawsuit from a British investment firm demanding he pay them more than $500,000," according to PopEater.

Monjack, meanwhile, issued this statement in response to the suspicions: "It is a real tragedy that success, greed, envy and celebrity are the motivation for attacking my family and character."


  • stolidog says:

    Sad news, obviously, but I can't help wondering if these were the same "flu like symptoms" that Heath Ledger was suffering from.

  • How does TMZ scoop everyone in every case involving celebrities (or at least they appear to ...). Can't a big newspaper hire TMZ's staffers to do some real investigative work?

  • Me says:

    The more i hear about this guy, the more fishy something seems. I just saw on Access Hollywood a paparazzi walked up to Jamie Pressley and asked her if she and Brittany were friends, and she said 'I was before she married HIM.' I can only imagine what she meant by that....

  • Vania Melamed says:

    Brittany was emaciated multiple times, and that sort of yo-yo weight adjustment seriously complicates the heart, particularly if she's depriving herself of nutrients, which is like the case. The Schiavo case really highlighted well what happens when women starve themselves so aggressively, and even FDA-approved prescription meds often have heinous side effects on the heart. The number one reason I feel she may have had a heart attack has nothing to do with Heath Ledger's symptoms. Brittany probably, as I'm sure it will eventually surface, suffered extreme deficits of potassium, one of the most common forms of malnourishment resulting from bulimia and anorexia. People suffering from low potassium often suffer heart failure, as Schiavo had, or often from periodic collapses called hypokalemic paralysis, often resembling anything from seizures to unresponsiveness, to MS symptoms and black-outs. If the potassium levels stopped her sweet beating heart, then, horribly, she is much luckier than Schiavo, who endured brain damage and comatose, before being put on feeding tubes and eventually was taken off long, weary life support. All from starving her body.
    And why it's constitutional for a man with so many legal cases against him in multiple countries to marry an American so quickly is beyond me. This guy should have been in prison all this time, and poor Brittany....what low self-esteem to be with this creep. He obviously had a rapier personality to trick such a bubbly girl into marrying him.

  • kaylee says:

    tmz is run by lawyers.

  • anon says:

    Simply beautifully put. I love your post.

  • Carolina says:

    I don't know Monjack at all, and he might very well be a nefarious character, but this seems a little weird to me. If his lawsuit had not merit, and he had nothing to do with Factory Girl, then why wasn't it thrown out? I could sue Spielberg for credit on his next movie, and I'd be laughed out of court.

  • Ron Austin says:

    No, Carolina, you would not be laughed out of court. If you had the time and money to pursue a legal claim against Speilberg for credit on his next movie, you would eventually lose, as it sounds Monjack would have. And Speilberg would have the money and lawyers to dispose of the matter quickly. On a smaller production, one could hold up the release with a bogus lawsuit and simply making the matter go away by adding a name in the credits seems like an easy way to make a legal problem disappear. I am always one to defend an underdog when the press starts maligning him. I don't always believe that where there's smoke, there's fire. But I have heard enough about this guy to think he is bad news. Multiple lawsuits and criminal allegations by completely different parties in different parts of the world all point to the fact that the guy is a vulture. Someone should check to see whether he's even a citizen. If not, he just lost his meal ticket and should his limey ass should be on the next plane back to England.

  • T-Jay says:

    Are these whingers serious about Monjack conning his way into the movie etc....????
    If he took them to court to sue them then he must have had proof that there was some backhanded stuff going on that he should have been credited for.
    Bottom Line... if he was full of crap about the script being "stolen", the company would NOT have settled with him at any cost. Also any evidence Monjack had would have been shown to both sides of the lawsuit. Meaning the lawyers representing the movie would have a copy of Monjacks screenplay which he claimed had ideas or the basic story stolen from......
    That would be the only reason they would have to settle out of court, because the lawyers knew the those on the movie production would have been shutdown permanently and cost them perhaps several million in punitive damages.......
    Settling out of court was the best way to ensure the movie could go ahead.... Hickenlooper just sounds like someone who's bitter and pissed off that this all happened. He should be grateful his lawyers were looking out for those backing his movie. They could have lost millions .... and then sent out goons to break Hickenloopers legs or whatever they do in hollywood these days.....
    Finally, the settlement would have given Monjack a certain amount of money (which may have been $150,000 perhaps the price of the script?, plus a credit as producer) to have the suit settled and dropped.
    The director and producers should have made sure that the writers were upfront and hadn't stolen anyones ideas to create a movie from.... this time they got caught.
    That sort of thing helps keep the movie industry in check......
    I hope they can put Brittany Murphy's death to rest and allow her mother and her husband Simon Monjack to grieve in private.....

  • Lechatrouge says:

    I'm with Hickenlooper. I think Murphy's ex-husband was a con man who took advantage of a small production because he knew he could. People muscle their way into things like this, and most of the public has no idea because often a legal settlement is reached which prevents anyone-either side- from commenting. When you have a small indie film, there usually aren't multiple lawyers- there's maybe A lawyer. If someone plays their cards right, they can forge and lie their way in and no one can do a damned thing about it without bankrupting themselves. Don't kid yourself- the law protects those who can afford to make it do so, not independent artists.
    Regardless of the nature of the movie business- he reads as a creep and I suspect foul play and am not at all surprised to hear this. My condolences to Ms. Murphy's family. It seems like she fell in with a bad person and I fear this is the result. I only hope this stops him from hurting other people.
    It's monstrous what people will do for what they perceive as "fame".

  • Secondly, if they are posting blogs without having your name, then how is anyone going to know it was you.

  • Wesley says:

    I had no idea all this stuff was in play during that tragedy. Terrible to read about but glad it got exposed eventually!

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  • Anonymous says:

    I dated Simon Monjack a few years ago. I can honestly say I wish I never met him. He was verbally abusive and often treated me like a prisoner. The stress became unbearable. How that poor woman was conned into believing his lies...well I do pity her and it's a tragedy. He had a way of ensnaring his prey and made up the most ridiculous stories. He implanted fear and always muttered words about Edie Sedgwick. It is an embarresment to have been with him. It affected me in a very real way. The White Hotel...which he wanted to film, was one of my favourite novels. Strange how he dissapeared from the planet. I cannot help but wonder if the stress he causes may have conributed to her death. C'est la vie.

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