Brittany Anne Murphy was born in Atlanta, Georgia, on November 10, 1977. Her parents, Sharon Kathleen Murphy and Angelo Bertolotti, divorced when she was two years old, and Murphy was raised by her mother in Edison, New Jersey, and later in Los Angeles, where they moved so Murphy could pursue an acting career. Murphy said her mother never tried to stifle her creativity, and she considered her mother a crucial factor in her later success: "When I asked my mom to move to California, she sold everything and moved out here for me. … She always believed in me." Murphy's mother is of Irish and Eastern European descent and her father is Italian American.
She was raised a Baptist and later became a non-denominational Christian. Murphy had two older half-brothers, Jeff and Tony Bertolotti, and a younger half-sister, Pia Bertolotti.