The family of Brittany Murphy has already spoken out against Lifetime's movie, The Brittany Murphy Story, with her father calling the movie trashy and saying it defiles the memory of Murphy. It's understandable that he'd be so upset: Like any Lifetime TV movie, it's more tabloid-recap than biopic, delving into everything from Murphy's career struggles to her marriage to Simon Monjack. But Monjack isn't exactly a household name — just who was Brittany Murphy's husband?
A British Screenwriter
The U.K.-born Monjack, played in the movie by Kirstie’s Eric Peterson, is someone who seemed to court controversy wherever he went. He ostensibly worked in Hollywood, but he has very few credits to his name. He’s the writer/director of the British film Two Days, Nine Lives, a movie that was little seen and poorly reviewed by those in the U.K. who did manage to watch it. (I’ve been spared the experience, but Total Film called it a ”woefully misguided vanity project.”)
"A Con Man and a Bad Guy," Says One Director
Aside from Two Days, Nine Lives, Monjack’s only other real credit is as writer on Factory Girl, a biopic of Edie Sedgwick starring Sienna Miller. Monjack is one of three writers that has a “story” credit. Even that wasn’t without drama. George Hickenlooper, Factory Girl’s director, had nothing by nasty things to say about Monjack’s involvment with the project. “[Monjack] sued his way onto the project for a title and stole 150K out of my budget,” Hickenlooper wrote in the comments of Hollywood Elsewhere. ”He is a con man and a bad guy.”
Bad for Brittany Murphy, Some Say
Hickenlooper, who also notes that he came close to casting Murphy as Edie Sedgwick, had more to say about Monjack. He added:
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…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.
In Trouble Financially
The Factory Girl situation is Hickenlooper’s word against
Monjack’s, but Hickenlooper was right about the legal and financial
woes. According to the New York Daily News, Monjack was sued by a mortgage company and evicted from his residence. According the New York Post, he was wanted in Virginia for credit card fraud
and spent time in jail for overstaying his visa. (There were rumors
that he married Murphy, whom he met as a teenager, to help his visa
issues.) His sleazy dealings earned him the nickname ”Conjack.”
Also a Tragedy
In a tragic end to an already tragic story, Monjack died just five months after Murphy, with the same cause of death reported: pneumonia and anemia. Still, their relationship seems like another case of someone falling for a bad dude. Instead of being a stabilizing force in Murphy’s life, Monjack brought with him a whirlwind of trouble wherever he went. Even if The Brittany Murphy Story is as tabloid-y as it looks, it is correct in that showing that Monjack had a concerning past.