Amy Heckerling - who directed the late Brittany Murphy in the 1995 comedy classic Clueless - tells UsMagazine.com she is "shocked and angry" after the actress' sudden death at the age of 32.
"She was a young girl, and I don't know why nobody was watching out with what was going on with her," Heckerling tells Us.
Heckerling says she noticed that the actress lately "seemed a little too energetic. I think everybody did."
Murphy's frail frame at the Dec. 3 opening of Tt Collection's Pop-Up shop in Los Angeles caused many to wonder whether she suffered from an eating disorder. Her husband, British screenwriter Simon Monjack, denies she had any issues. (Notes from an investigator with the Los Angeles coroner's office revealed Murphy consumed "some noodles, leftover Thai food, Gatorade, water and tea with lemon" the night before her Dec. 20 death.)
Heckerling hadn't seen Murphy in a year or so -- and she didn't know anything about her last film, from which she was reportedly fired (Murphy's rep says the actress and the studio "mutually parted ways").
"I was not around the last movie," Heckerling tells Us. "I can't say that I noticed anything that led me to believe, 'Oh my god, this person is messed up.' But one hears rumblings. It's a small town, and you hear from other people on other crews, but that's all rumors and stuff."
A shocking number of strong prescription meds were found on Murphy's bedroom nightstand after her death, according to the investigator notes.
"I just feel like I can’t say, 'Oh, she was on drugs,'" Heckerling says. "I didn't work with her the past couple of years, and I know she was enjoying people treating her like she was the beautiful girl. That's where I get angry at what Hollywood does to young girls.
"This town has a very strong idea of what girls are supposed to look Like, and they all try to fit into a certain mold, and it's not healthy," she adds. "That's what is tragic about Brittany."
After Murphy filmed 2002's 8 Mile, "I was feeling -- maybe not just then at that particular time, but over time -- that she was maybe being pressured to be a certain body type and a certain kind of actress as far as playing the sexy, blonde, thin girl," Heckerling says. "And that she was buying into what she was supposed to be, rather than just being a wonderful, innocent young girl.
"She's all over the magazines like, 'Look, she had a makeover and now she looks hot!' But I didn't think so," Heckerling goes on. "I mean, yes, she does look beautiful all the time, but I didn't like that she was being forced into that."
No one ever intervened about Murphy's weight loss over the years.
"I mean, you tell people you think they're getting thin or whatever, but not, 'Hey, what’s going on?'" the director explains. "It just seemed like she was blowing up, being on every magazine and being treated as though she had suddenly become beautiful. And I think she was feeling very good about that. I'm just not happy with Hollywood."
Murphy was "a wonderful actress and a sweet lovely," Heckerline tells Us. "She was like a puppy. She was so sweet and lovable."
She hopes young girls can learn a lesson.
"I think girls have to have a stronger sense of who they are and not give in to all the pressures," she says. "It's a hard thing to do."