Devastated by the loss of his wife, the Hollywood actress Brittany Murphy, the British screenwriter Simon Monjack has announced that he is to sue Warner Brothers over her death.
He claims that the studio was responsible for the heart attack that killed her because it “dropped” her from her role providing a voice for one of the characters in the sequel to the animated film Happy Feet.
Monjack, who is from north London, alleges that the stress she suffered after her contract was terminated led to her death from a heart attack last month at the age of 32. “She was devastated,” he said.
On Thursday, a spokesman for Warner Brothers insisted that it had “never entered into any deal for Happy Feet 2, and thus there was no contract to cancel”.
He added: “Any claim that Warner Bros was somehow responsible for [her] tragic death is demonstrably false and reprehensible.”
Monjack alleges that the studio had not chosen his wife, who had appeared in such films as Clueless and Sin City, on the strength of rumours that she had been sacked from a horror film, The Caller, for being difficult on set. Also, he reportedly turned up drunk and fought with locals on location in Puerto Rico.
Monjack denies all the allegations and insists that he only disagreed with the makers of The Caller over his wife’s working hours.
“I was never, ever drunk there,” he said. “What I did do was demand they follow union rules, and after she had worked 12-hour days, six days a week, that she get the breaks she was entitled to.
“I was 'difficult’ because I was the enforcer to protect Brittany. She was far too nice to stand up to directors and producers who wanted her to work to exhaustion.”