Amanda Fuller is defending a new TV movie about the life and death of beloved actress Brittany Murphy — and firing back at the CLUELESS star’s cyber-bully dad!
She’s even been taunted online by Brittany’s father, Angelo Bertolotti.
“He has approached me on Twitter and said things like I am a disgrace,” she tells me.
Now Amanda is fighting back — and insisting the biopic was intended as a tribute to one of her favorite big screen personalities.
THE BRITTANY MURPHY STORY, she says, was conceived as an independent movie then purchased by Lifetime. It was filmed over just 16 days on a shoestring budget.
Early reviews have poked fun at the production quality and charged that Amanda doesn’t look anything like the tragic star.
“It is what it is,” she says. “All of our hearts were in the right place. I had two days to prepare.”
“I would have loved to have months of preparation and time to get down to a really skinny [body] so I could portray her physically better. And we would have loved to have had more money and more time for vocal lessons and stuff like that. But in the end, I think it became less of it being a look-alike piece and more about just trying to capture the essence of who she was.”
Amanda — who has also appeared in multiple episodes of GREY’S ANATOMY — told me more about the somewhat controversial film when we caught up yesterday.
Brittany’s mom refused to cooperate with the movie and her dad said he was going to litigate to stop it. How does it make you feel to be the face of such a personal film about someone knowing that the people closest to her don’t approve of it?
Sharon has gone on the record as saying she wasn’t a part of it. I haven’t heard her saying she was completely against it. If that is the case, it makes me sad because I think if she were to see it, she would see that we had the best of intentions.
When it comes to the dad, as far as I know — which is based off of extensive research — he wasn’t really a part of her life at all. He was in jail when she was young and then she tried to have a relationship with him to no avail. It wasn’t until she died that he became so vocal in caring so much about his daughter. I think that is kind of sick and I don’t really respect that. I know that a lot of her abandonment issues came from the relationship with her dad and that is probably why she sought love in places that she wasn’t going to get it. He can say what he wants. He has already gone and attacked me on Twitter and I have had to block him and that is fine. He can do what he wants. But I just think it is interesting that the minute she is back in the press he is all about, “I am going to sue” and all that stuff. If he really respected his daughter’s memory then I don’t know if he would be trying to make all this controversy about it. Let her rest in peace.
Why do you think he is trying to make it personal with you?
I don’t know what his intentions are but I don’t believe them to be good intentions. It’s complicated. And it is hard because I want to do nothing but respect her and her family. Normally I would be like “The family is against this, let’s not do it.” But we didn’t know what was going to happen with it. So we were just making it independently and all of this kind of came out of the blue.
This film has been described by some as a “murder mystery”…
Not in my opinion. I don’t know where that is coming from really. We aimed to portray her life and the end of her life as well as we knew what happened based off of public, factual data and media reports. It was not our intention to do an expose. That is not what the film is about. I feel like this film is much more about her passion for her work and those that are close to her and her struggles with her identity and the media’s influence on her life and all that stuff. So I don’t know why it is being interpreted as that. I guess the media will take anything and put a spin on it. We just wanted to honor her memory and maybe shed light onto some of the struggles that she had as a girl in the spotlight.
There are some people who believe Brittany was poisoned. How do you believe she died?
I don’t buy into the whole poison thing. I really believe in my heart — and I think what we portrayed in the film — is that she had pneumonia and was super sick and was anemic and had a heart murmur and took a bad combination of prescription pills to try and get better. She refused to go to the hospital so she didn’t get the medical attention that she needed — and it ended tragically.
Did you ever meet her?
Not that I know of. I may have met her in passing. But I am pretty sure I would have remembered that because I was such a huge fan of hers. We had a lot of mutual friends, so I feel like I always knew her. I was connected to her from afar. But I never spent any time with her — though I wish I had. She was a lovely human being.
What did you learn about Brittany and her life that you didn’t already know from reading gossip magazines?
I was one of those people that kind of bought into the media speculation of her being, you know, a drug addict and partier — before Lindsay Lohan made it cool to do that. But I discovered doing the film that she definitely wasn’t. She was a homebody and just liked staying at home with people that she loved. She didn’t like to go out partying and she wasn’t on drugs. She had a heart murmur. She took prescription pills and that wasn’t a healthy choice in my opinion… The other thing I learned was that her mom had cancer twice in her life and that Brittany would just up and leave her career for that time so that she could be by her side taking care of her. The media kind of took that and turned it into something else.
The way you portray her in the film, Brittany was very particular about the roles she wanted to take. Would she have taken this role?
I would like to think, yeah. The reason I took it on was because it was a huge challenge and I was scared out of my mind and I had no time to say no. When it came to her being so particular about roles it was because she wanted to be respected as an actress and do real work and not just fluff blockbusters all the time. So I think, yeah, this is something that could have come along and she might have seen it as a big challenge. I hope so. It is not a fluff piece.
THE BRITTANY MURPHY STORY premieres Saturday, September 6 on Lifetime.
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