When we heard the shocking news that Brittany Murphy had died suddenly on Sunday, we were reminded of her charming performances in a couple of movies that have found strong audiences, even if they're not strictly science fiction films.
Perhaps best known for starring opposite Alicia Silverstone in Clueless and for her work in 8 Mile, Murphy, 32, had fairly sizable amount of genre work among her credits.
In the hyper-stylized noir Sin City, based on Frank Miller's black-and-white graphic novels, she played Shellie, a classic "good kid who's fallen on hard times" of a kind that goes all the way back to Stephen Crane's Maggie: A Girl of the Streets. Murphy brought to Shellie a kind of jadedness that was still kind of innocent.
But perhaps the role we loved her in most was the voice of the young penguin, Gloria, in George Miller's animated musical Happy Feet. She demonstrated a clear, beautiful singing voice in that film and charmed us with her performance as the plucky girl penguin.
Murphy also had a supporting role in the dark Holocaust fantasy The Devil's Arithmetic, based on Jane Yolen's novel. And she found herself among a roster of genre veterans in director Joshua Michael Stern's fantasy film Neverwas, alongside Aaron Eckhart (The Dark Knight), Ian McKellen (Lord of the Rings), Jessica Lange (King Kong), William Hurt (Altered States) and Alan Cumming (X2).
She also did TV: In the Futurama video movie The Beast With a Billion Backs, she played Colleen O'Hallahan, Fry's cop girlfriend. Though not specifically genre, Murphy also voiced the lovably dim and wide-eyed Luanne Platter, niece of Hank and Peggy Hill, on Mike Judge's long-running show King of the Hill.
Murphy will appear posthumously in director Sylvester Stallone's sprawling mercenary epic The Expendables, opposite Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Mickey Rourke, Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger. For sci-fi fans and movie fans in general, she'll be missed.