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Brittany Murphy: 'Don't listen to' gossip

Sassy actress talks love, life and 'Uptown Girls'

By Meriah Doty

Murphy hugged and kissed some reporters after a recent round-table interview in Atlanta.

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ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) -- Brittany Murphy can be syrupy-sweet one minute and catty the next. You just never know what's going to come out of this petite starlet's mouth.

The 25-year-old actress recently sat down with a group of journalists in Atlanta, where she noted she was born, to promote her new film "Uptown Girls" and discuss her career. Co-star Marley Shelton came along too, but Murphy seemed to take command of the room -- even though, by running late, she immediately put herself at a disadvantage.

One reporter -- who had mentioned before the interview that he hadn't seen such "diva behavior" in years -- asked Murphy about the pressure accompanying her first commercial lead.

"What's your name again?" a deadpan Murphy responded.

"Jim," he replied.

"Gee, Jim, I didn't realize [it] until just now," she said, staring him straight in the eyes.

He seemed displeased with Murphy's response.

She tried to make up for it. "I'm kidding. I do sarcasm really poorly. What's your name again? Bruce?"

He didn't correct her.

"Bruce, it's been a long day."

But Murphy was unfazed by the tension. "I don't feel pressure," she said in response to his question, adding that the success of "Uptown Girls" does not rest on her narrow shoulders.

Star power

Murphy, left, and Fanning star in "Uptown Girls."

Maybe so, but it's her name above the title.

The scope of Murphy's star power is being put to the test as "Uptown Girls" -- the story of a free-spirited socialite who takes a job as a nanny to a buttoned-up child (Dakota Fanning) -- debuts nationwide Friday. The film also stars Heather Locklear and Donald Adeosun Faison. The latter co-starred with Murphy in '90s teen cult film "Clueless."

Murphy, as the emotionally stunted Molly Gunn, is forced to grow up when her sizeable bank account suddenly disappears.

When asked about the 9-year-old Fanning, Murphy bragged like a proud older sister.

"She's sunshine and one of the most talented humans. [She is] so unpresumptuously precocious -- a wise, wise little lady," she said.

But she dodged questions about her ex-beau Ashton Kutcher and his highly publicized romance with actress Demi Moore.

"If you pick any other current event I would be happy to discuss it," she said earnestly. "I did learn one great lesson from a past relationship, and that was to never talk about relationships in print again because I'd rather live my private life than read about it."

Which didn't stop her from talking about the tabloids and their rumors, such as one that recently linked her to Limp Bizkit's Fred Durst. To that she responded, "Ew!"

Her boyfriend, who she said she's "very much in love" with, is Durst's manager, according to Murphy. "We came from church and went to the Four Seasons Hotel for brunch to meet with the head of Geffen Records, [the Geffen exec's] wife, myself, my boyfriend and Fred," she said. "It was the first time I had ever met him and they were discussing a business deal."

Bow and Baker

Murphy, seen here in a scene from "Uptown Girls," admitted the film was originally intended to be much darker and that it went through several "incarnations."

She was rather amused by the rumor, though, especially since -- as she noted -- she and her boyfriend had gone to church the day gossip columnists spotted the group coming out of the posh hotel.

She seems quite aware of the power of gossip in keeping her in the public eye, such as the rumor last year linking her to "8 Mile" co-star Eminem.

Nevertheless, she could do without some of the chatter.

"Don't listen to [New York Post gossip column] Page Six. It's always inaccurate, really. I mean, to a fault, it's just terrible," she said.

Murphy's attempting to make a name for herself outside the movie industry. She said she's planning to record an album after finishing her next film, though she didn't give any other details except that she's "playing around with all sorts of things." She listed "multitasking performers" Barbra Streisand, Judy Garland, Liza Minnelli and Madonna as her main influences.

And when it comes to acting, she dropped some interesting names. "Now that I'm older," she said, "I love Carroll Baker's work so very much, Clara Bow and Meryl Streep."

Bow is a particularly unusual choice. She was a silent film star, known as "The 'It' Girl," who became as well-known for her dalliances as her movie work.

But then, that may be the reputation Murphy is shooting for -- glamorous, irreverent and unpredictable.

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