It has been holding us in its grip for weeks: the lawsuit between actor couple Johnny Depp and Amber Heard. The vehement accusations and claims of the two fly over and the emotions run high several times. But is everything we see genuine, or are the actors using their acting skills to win the lawsuit? Bazaar asked her body language expert Denise Dechamps van Body Language Academy to share her thoughts on the high-profile case with us.
Body language expert Denise Dechamps looks into the Johnny Depp and Amber Heard case
Now that both Amber Heard and Johnny Depp have taken the stand, more and more are coming reveal staggering details of their relationship† But not only the spoken words are interesting in this case. Non-verbal communication, gestures and facial expressions can also tell a lot about the relationship between Amber Heard and the Pirates of the Caribbean actor, according to body language expert Denise Dechamps.
Denise: ‘Actually, the video Amber Heard secretly made of a fight between her and Depp already very interesting. This gives you an insight into how things sometimes went between them. What you see in the clip is that Johnny expresses his anger by violently slamming the kitchen cupboards, but despite this peak in his emotions, as we call it, surprisingly enough he does not necessarily turn to Amber. He often has his back to Amber, does not look at Amber and sends little to no non-verbal signals to her. Also, the moment he discovers that Amber is secretly filming him, he doesn’t direct his anger at her, at least that’s not what the video shows.”
Is Amber really afraid of Johnny?
If Johnny Depp did indeed mistreat Amber Heard as she claimed, Amber would at least behave conspicuously, according to Denise. Denise: ‘If you know that someone has abused you before, you would expect that there would be a certain fear when that person becomes angry again. That doesn’t seem to be the case at all in this video. When Johnny comes closer, she just steps towards him. Maybe to hide her phone, but if you’re really scared of that other person, you wouldn’t be able to think so clearly. In the reflection of the window you can also see that when Johnny slams the door of a kitchen cupboard very hard, Amber does not startle. She hardly reacts to it. While this was quite a violent expression of aggression that would frighten you, even if you have not been mistreated in the past. Instead, Amber tries to adjust her camera a bit here and there so that she can get a good picture of Johnny. Apparently she still has cognitive space and a certain calm to decide this. Something I can’t quite imagine if you’re scared.’
Non-verbal communication is worth a thousand words
In both testimonials Denise also sees interesting non-verbal communication. Although she indicates that it is not possible to draw a conclusion based on one signal, she notices a few things that could indicate a strategic move.
Denise: ‘The striking thing about the images of Amber’s testimony, was that her facial expressions of emotion didn’t match the things she said. By viewing the images without sound and subtitles, we only focused on the peaks in emotion. We noted those expressions, after which we looked at what she said at what moment. This showed that exactly where you would expect a peak in emotion, for example when she tells that she was being beaten, Amber showed little emotion, and vice versa.’
Many viewers also noticed the violent no-shaking during Amber’s story, and Denise also saw it immediately. Denise: ‘At first I thought, maybe she usually does that in conversations too. But I checked and it isn’t the case. In that case it is very unnatural to shake no during a story. You usually do this when you disagree or deny something. I’m not saying she isn’t telling the truth, but it’s special to say the least.’
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