Robert Downey Jr and Lie to Me
The science of emotional awareness and Lie to Me is starting to become second nature. The other night I was watching an old episode of The Actors Studio with Robert Downey Jr (a quality actor). He was being quizzed by James Lipton on his court cases and time in jail. I was busy establishing RDJ’s baseline when something struck me. I could recognize some of the microexpressions that were appearing on his face unbidden as Lipton asked him questions about this painful time.
At around minute 19, when talking about prison, Robert Downey Jr’s first microexpression is anger at the judge’s harsh sentence:
RDJ’s second microexpression is sadness at remembering his time in prison (with a hint of fear perhaps?).
Then on reflection a few moments later this third microexpression which doesn’t fit into the microexpression definitions exactly still tells us a lot.
Paul Ekman’s book Emotions Revealed tells me it’s more of a subtle expression of worry, a mix of expressions. It’s so brief, it took me several goes to catch the frame on youtube. So does this all mean that Robert Downey Jr was lying to James Lipton in this interview? In this case, not at all, it simply reflected his internal emotions about the subject. The angry expression is particularly revealing as he doesn’t say explicitly how he felt about the subject. But is he angry at the judge or the sentence?
My notes tell me that RDJ’s baseline at that moment was: “He has one eyebrow, his right, lower than the other. Looks around suspiciously at the audience half the time and has a tongue tick.” not complete by any measure.
Baselines, subtle expressions and the seven microexpressions are all subjects I’ll be covering in future posts. For now, it’s rewarding to see how these real-life Lie to Me skills are becoming a part of me.
You can watch the full interview below, this segment starts at around 19 minutes.