When Brittany Murphy died back in 2009, many believed the actress's abuse of prescription drugs and historic eating disorders were to blame. But now a controversial documentary claims her demise was far more sinister.
Top Priority: The Terror Within tells the alleged true story of how Brittany was caught up in a government plot against a national security whistleblower.
Another conspiracy theory you may think but after speaking to the whistleblower and filmmaker Julia Davis the accusation does not seem so outlandish.
According to Julia, 'Britt defended [her] from false allegations and [she] intends to keep doing the same for her, even in death.'
'Britt was neither paranoid nor a drug abuser [but] was branded as such simply because her friends and industry contacts couldn't believe the magnitude of retaliation the couple were facing.'
The actress's movie breakthrough came in the 90s as Ty in classic teen comedy Clueless. Afterwards, Brittany racked up a number of high profile roles, in films like Sin City, Don't Say A Word and Just Married, where she met former beau Ashton Kutcher.
So like many I was shocked to hear of her death at such a young age and as a result 'of natural causes'. Especially as two months after announcing the cause of death, Los Angeles Assistant Chief Coroner Ed Winter changed his mind, adding 'multiple drug intoxication' to the report.
The Girl, Interrupted star was laid to rest at Forest Lawn Memorial Park on Christmas Eve, 2009, but as worldwide speculation into her sudden death continued, her British husband Simon Monjack, 39, died under similar circumstances just five months later on May 23, 2010.
Celebrity blogger Perez Hilton said it 'came as no surprise', and, only a month before making this statement, he predicted that she would be the next big Hollywood death on a U.S. radio show.
In 2011 Brittany's mother, Sharon Murphy, was unhappy with the coroner's report and wanted a better explanation. She blamed the death of her daughter and son-in-law on toxic mould found in their Hollywood home.
That's when Sharon - who lived in the house with the couple - decided to file a suit against Brittany's lawyers who she claimed double-crossed her into giving up her rights to sue the builders for wrongful death.
However, the documentary points the finger at a far greater power, at U.S. government spooks who allegedly targeted Murphy and her husband.The film reveals that:
- Murphy and Monjack were on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) watch list;
- U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) were trying to kick her screenwriter husband out of the country;
- Monjack was arrested over an expired visa - a ruthless tactic to intimidate Murphy after she spoke out in defence of Julia Davis, a former Customs and Border Protection agent.
'Britt and her husband Simon didn't deserve to be terrorized by the Department of Homeland Security for standing up to defend me,' says Davis.
The former enforcement officer was suing the government for wrongful imprisonment and according to the film, Homeland Security falsely claimed that the statement given by Murphy supported their allegations against Davis.
Davis's husband BJ - who co-produced the documentary - says that their actress friend was 'completely taken aback' by the department's deceit and hit back against their lies by issuing a sworn statement through her attorneys.
But BJ says that 'Britt's life was never the same' and from then on she placed herself 'in the crosshairs of Julia's attackers.'
The film isn't the first to note the couple's fear of being under government watch. American journalist, Alex Ben Block, said that Simon Monjack told him 'they were under surveillance by helicopters and their phone was bugged.'
And within days of sharing his worries, on 21 December, Murphy was dead.
She was found unconscious in her bathroom by her mother, who called an ambulance to rush her daughter to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, LA, where she was pronounced dead on arrival.
In a bid to find the truth about the star's death - like her mother Sharon - Brittany's father Angelo Bertolli had to pay for his daughter's hair samples to be saved from destruction after the LA Coroner admitted tests 'for poisons and toxic substances' had not been carried out during the autopsy.
But as Angelo failed to term up to a court hearing to make his case, the lawsuit was subsequently thrown out. However, with the fresh investigation into Murphy's death, favour does seem to be falling on the side of the filmmakers.
But let's go back to the beginning, to the moment in 2004 when Homeland Security branded Davis a 'domestic terrorist' because she accused government officials of breaching national security.
Davis had discovered that 23 foreigners from terrorist countries had been allowed onto U.S. soil, the same day Osama Bin Laden had planned terrorist attacks on America.
After Julia Davis highlighted the security breach in a report to her supervisors, the film claims Homeland Security took 'hostile action' against Davis, her family and friends.
This included a staggering 54 investigations leading to two malicious prosecutions, two false imprisonments, and a Black Hawk helicopter raid on her home that involved 27 DHS agents and one U.S. Marshal.
Shockingly, the film says the hush-hush tactics and the attack on Julia Davis, her family and Hollywood friends took more military manpower than the assassination of Bin Laden.
Luckily for Davis, she was finally cleared of all accusations in 2010. But not content, she decided to tell her story by writing and producing the film, that made sure 'these monsters' didn't get away with their crimes.
The film's director Asif Akbar says that when he first met BJ and Julia Davis he knew the 'incredible true story had to be told.' The filmmaker found it shocking that so many government officials and citizens, 'were willing to accept corruption as the norm of life.'
Akbar now claims he and his family are being targeted by Homeland Security. He says officials have 'raided their business' after Top Priority premiered at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on May 16 this year.
Remarkably, Julia Davis is still under surveillance by the government, saying that her bank accounts are levied 'on special dates.' But her film won't be the only project to shed some light on the mysterious life of Brittany Murphy.
Akbar and Davis have teamed up again, along with the actress's father, to write and produce a biopic, called Britt. The director says the film will cover everything during Brittany's rise to fame including 'her romances, lifestyle, career and her untimely death.'
Considering the subject matter and heavy accusations it is unsurprising that reviews of the documentary have not been kind, with the New York Times describing Top Priority as serving 'neither the viewer nor its embattled subject.'
Another critic suggests it 'too often distracts from the core story instead of enhancing it.'
Whether you believe Julia Davis' story or not, there is no doubt that the ambiguous life of Brittany Murphy is a tale worth telling.
Watch the trailer for Top Priority: The Terror Within here...
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