Amber Ryland will never forget those first few days after Brittany Murphy‘s death.
The former Radar Online reporter looks back at that time in the new HBO Max documentary What Happened, Brittany Murphy?.
It was December 2009, and the world had learned of Murphy’s sudden death a few days prior. Ryland was covering the news.
“The amount of reporters and paparazzi sort of dwindled off and we stayed,” she recalled in a sneak peek of the film. “We were told to stay, spent the night in my car. It was almost 24/7.”
Then, on Christmas Day, Ryland received a call from her boss, who she said instructed her to buy a bouquet of flowers and bring them to Murphy’s house. When she rang the doorbell, Murphy’s husband, Simon Monjack, answered.
“I said, ‘Merry Christmas. I’m just so sorry about Brittany,'” she remembered. “I said, ‘My card’s there if you want to talk but no pressure.'”
Afterwards, Ryland drove off. She said she received a call less than an hour later from Monjack and that she was “shocked.”
“I said, ‘Hi.’ And he said, ‘This is Amber, right?'” Ryland continued. “And I said, ‘Yeah.’ And he said, ‘Thank you. I got your flowers.’ And he was kind of silent for a minute and he said, ‘You know you’re the only one I’ve called.’ And I said, ‘Oh.’ [He said,] ‘You’re the only one that I want to talk to.’ I had access to him now.”
Murphy died Dec. 20, 2009, and was laid to rest on Christmas Eve of that year. She was 32 years old. In 2010, the Los Angeles County Coroner listed community-acquired pneumonia as the primary cause of the actress’ death, and iron-deficiency anemia and multiple drug intoxication as other significant conditions. Coroner spokesman Craig Harvey said all drugs were prescription medications and the manner of death was ruled an accident.
Monjack died in May 2010 at the age of 40. Later that year, the Los Angeles County coroner listed his cause of death as community-acquired acute bronchopneumonia and cardiomegaly with focal myocardial fibrosis as other significant conditions.
What Happened, Brittany Murphy? looks back at Murphy’s life and shocking death. The two-part documentary, which is produced by Blumhouse Television and Pyramid Productions, is available to stream on HBO Max starting Oct. 14.