Movie Talk was sad to hear of the premature death of actress Brittany Murphy in Los Angeles yesterday, reportedly from natural causes, at the age of only 32.

We’d like to take a little time out here to  pay tribute to a talented and versatile actress whose career has been cut so tragically short.

Murphy got her first big film break playing one of Alicia Silverstone’s high-school clique in Clueless. She followed this intuitive performance with a series of roles on TV, before again turning in a notable supporting performance in the Winona Ryder/Angelina Jolie starrer Girl, Interrupted. She also stood out in another challenging supporting role in the Michael Douglas thriller Don’t Say a Word, which no doubt helped to land her a starring role in 2002 in 8 Mile opposite rapper Eminem.

Playing Eminem’s beautiful but unfaithful new girlfriend in Curtis Hanson’s powerful Detroit drama, Murphy turned in a raw and sympathetic performance in what was on the surface an unsympathetic role.

Since that career high, Murphy continued to work steadily, building a CV that included some lively voice-over stints – topped by the singing penguin Gloria in Happy Feet and unlucky-in-love airhead Luanne Platter on King of the Hill.

She has several films due out in 2010…. And it’s hard not to think that – if it hadn’t been for her early death – she had the talent to achieve a great deal more.

Here she is talking to David Letterman…