On April 22, 2015, American Movie Star Robert Downey, Jr. sat down to promote his new 2015 movie Avengers: Age of Ultron with Channel 4 News reporter Krishnan Guru-Murthy.
For the first 3:55 minutes of the interview, the interview went well with thoughtful in-depth questions and answers directly relating to the promotion of the movie, the traits of his ‘self-made’ Super Hero movie character, and the altruistic ideas of the Avengers Super Hero Team.
However, at the 3:55 minute mark, interviewer Guro-Murthy took a turn for the worse, veered off movie promotion course, and got too personal for Robert Downey, Jr.’s comfort level.
At this moment, RDJ realized the detour and displayed a polite, yet fake, SOCIAL Smile in which the mouth corners turned up slightly but the expression around the eyes were held too still and too long.
Interviewer Guru-Murthy drew parallels between the real actor and his pretend movie character:
GM, “But, he’s (i.e., Tony Stark) becoming much more likable character as well isn’t he…a better man, in a way that you are as well I suppose…”
RDJ, “Yeah, he’s becoming a better guy…,” RDJ shook his head from left-to-right in a “no” gesture despite his verbal words of agreement, “Ah, yeah…Sure…,”
Although GM delivered a back-handed compliment, RDJ remained warm and gracious as he then flashed a GENUINE Smile (and laugh) of happiness as shown in photo #2 below:
In a genuine smile, the entire facial muscles lift upward to defy gravity! The eyes twinkle and sparkle. The orbicular oculi muscles circling the perimeter of the eyes pull upward creating lines and ‘crows-feet’ wrinkles around the outer edges of both eyes and temple areas.
In Psychologist Paul Ekman’s research close to 50 years ago, Ekman discovered seven Universal micro-expressions of Anger, Disgust, Fear, Happiness, Sadness, Surprise, and Contempt. These facial expressions occur in fractions of a second and are often missed in interpersonal interactions.
In this extremely awkward interview between actor Robert Downey, Jr. and Channel 4 News reporter Krishnan Guru-Murthy, RDJ gave the full range of micro-expressions.
RDJ’s genuine smile disappeared and turned into unexpected facial SURPRISE at time marker 4:01 when the interviewer GM asked RDJ about a quote he gave in The New York Times magazine article published on April 20, 2008 entitled, “Been Up, Been Down. Now? Super.”
The look of surprise is the fastest micro-expression with round still eyes and mouth agape as his brain registers the curve ball that the topic is now on his history of addiction and incarceration.
GM continued to pry despite his words, “I don’t want to pry…and you don’t have to talk about it…”
GM continued to pry into RDJ’s personal life. The initial look of surprise quickly moved to a frozen asymmetrical smile of CONTEMPT as RDJ now realized to himself, “I can’t believe this #$%@! A__-Hole is not letting up!” at time marker 4:03.
Contempt quickly changed to RDJ’s attempts to distance himself away (at time marker 4:04) from the rude and insensitive interviewer asking about a quote RDJ made after his incarceration.
This time period brought back painful mistakes and memories of RDJ’s past drug use, numerous sobriety treatments, probation violation, and incarceration…
resulting in the micro-expression of sadness with slightly downward eye-gaze and downward corners of the mouth. RDJ politely gave his best answer to the question, but GM did not give up and pressed him about whether he was or was not a LIBERAL.
At time marker 4:59, RDJ asked with a pleasant voice but micro-expressions of ANGER as he attempted to redirect the interviewer back on topic, “Are we promoting a MOVIE?”
The increased intensity of RDJ’s eyebrows (i.e., above the Procerus muscles) and his sharpened direct eye gaze indicated anger and that he had enough.
At time marker 5:00, RDJ softened his anger with raised, surprised eyes, but showed his distaste for the interviewer with an angry lizard tongue jet out because the interviewer was not easily redirected to the promotion of the upcoming movie.
At 5:17, RDJ flashed micro-expression of DISGUST with downward corners of the mouth and curled upper lips, with right upper lip higher than the left side.
GM did not let up!! He continued to badger RDJ about his personal life with no clue reading RDJ’s distressed BODY Language! At time marker 5:37, GM said, “I don’t know how comfortable you are…”
GM, for goodness sakes, man!
Just LOOK at RDJ’s obvious distressed body language of BLOCKING with fist to mouth, displayed horizontal stress lines across forehead, and inward turtle-tucked neck with visible neck wrinkles to distance himself away from this offensive interviewer.
The nightmare continued as GM relentlessly ignored RDJ’s distressed body language of the tongue sticking out and the extreme distancing away of his head. GM pressed on and said there was 2 or 3 minutes more of their agreed interview.
Ironically, RDJ had more body language awareness and savvy, as he looked at GM’s fidgeting foot and said, “Your foot’s starting to jump a little bit, so you better get to your next question…”
From 6:02 to 6:33, RDJ gave interviewer GM a steely stare and was seething mad with deep, heaving, breathing from his chest.
Incredibly, GM continued into RDJ’s dark past of drug use and relationship with his father and wondered if RDJ is free of all of that.
At 6:35, RDJ’s anger returned, but he politely asked and shook his head from left-to-right, “I’m sorry…what are we doing?”
Finally, at 6:38, RDJ took control of this out-of-control interview by ENDING the torture with a wave of his right hand, a fake smile, and a verbal, “BYE!”
Next, RDJ stood up, flashed another asymmetrical smile of contempt, commented to the interviewer that he was a little like Diane Sawyer, and walked out!
Even the interviewer expressed a “Hot-Spot” distress gesture by lightly rubbing the base of his nose as the Star exited. Under stress, blood vessels in the nose may dilate, release histamine, and itch…leading to a subconscious nose touch to relieve the itch.
Don’t BLOW-IT, like this interviewer! Do not make these painfully awkward mistakes, risk a similar WALK-OUT, or ruin your personal relationships or your business opportunities by being BODY Language incompetent!
Can you afford to make these body language ERRORS and lose time, relationships and money?
Of course not! So, improve your body language SAVVY and SUCCEED in your interpersonal and business relationships with Accurate Body Language training and services.
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“Get-to-the TRUTH!” Janette Ghedotte is an EXPERT in Human Behavior & Communication:
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