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From tearless sobs to looking directly at her ex: Body language expert analyzes Amber Heard’s first day on the stand during $100m blockbuster defamation trial with Johnny Depp
- Amber Heard took the stand for the first time in her defamation trial against Johnny Depp yesterday
- After sitting silently in the courtroom for Depp’s testimony, she now had the chance to put her case forward
- The actress was emotional at times but her body language betrayed her conflicting feelings, Judi James said
The actress, 36, finally had the chance to counter her ex-husband’s claims that he was an innocent victim of domestic abuse, as she recalled how the Pirates of the Caribbean star was repeatedly violent towards her.
The Aquaman star wept as she told the Virginia courthouse how she was repeatedly hit by the jealous Depp who performed a ‘cavity search’ on her for cocaine after ripping off her clothes, during her testimony in the bombshell trial.
Body language expert Judi James told MailOnline that it is difficult to read the emotions from the A-list case, as both of them are actors who know how to play a captivated worldwide audience.
The defendants will have been trained by their legal team in advance of their testimonies, but slight movements or expressions can give away their true feelings, but not reveal their guilt or innocence.
Previously in the trial, Depp won plaudits from viewers for his coolness and jokes on the stand, while Heard sat back silently throughout, occasionally whispering to her legal team.
But now she is giving a much more animated display, veering from smiles to sobs as she charts their volatile relationship.
During her testimony, at times Heard became visibly emotional and appeared to sob, yet viewers pointed out they couldn’t see any tears
Amber’s facial expressions became more animated when she spoke about abuse
Heard attracted criticism from some who accused her of pretending to cry on the stand while she recounted the horrific allegations of abuse she suffered.
She told the court that in May 2013 she and Depp were on vacation at a trailer park in Hicksville, California near Joshua Tree where he performed ‘cavity search’ on her, looking for cocaine after he accused her of flirting with another woman.
The actress also recounted the first time she was hit by Depp after she asked him about one of his tattoos.
The actress appeared visibly emotional during these moments but some pointed out it was hard to see any tears rolling down her face.
Instead, Heard appeared to crumple her chin and tearlessly sob during the testimony to highlight her emotional state.
Judi James said: ‘The cameras made it hard to pick out if they had formed in her eyes or if her eyes had reddened. This, like everything, is a complicated point.
‘When guilty people perform tears they often try to hide their dry eyes, poking them with fingers, squeezing them shut tight or prodding them with a hankie.
‘When they do cry for real the streaming tears are often prompted by self-pity. Amber’s seemed to be truncated, but is that acting or bad acting or the innocent complex response of someone with mixed emotions?’
She added: ‘Amber’s facial expressions became more animated when she spoke about abuse.
‘She spoke in detail and her expressions seemed to range from shock and bewilderment to disgust and anger.
‘She kept her head held up and any suggestion of tears came from a change in her vocal tone and a chin-crumple.’
Heard self-diminished during the first questions and hunched forward as she began to give her account
Body posture can reveal a lot about a person’s emotions, even if they have been coached to appear a certain way by their legal team.
Throughout Depp’s testimony, she appeared cold and unflinching as she sat upright in her chair listening to his claims of her abuse.
But when she took the stand yesterday, she started going more into herself.
Judi said: ‘Amber self-diminished during the first questions and hunched forward as she began to give her account.’
Similarly, during her testimony, Depp was leaning over his desk, often writing or doodling.
Judi said: ‘He wore spectacles that were tinted and which hid his eyes when he did look up. He often glanced to the guy on his right and seemed to smirk or chuckle with him at some points.
‘It looked as though he was arrogantly finding her testimony amusing or that he was bored. But it could also be translated as a hunch of subservience from a man too scared to even look his ex-wife in the eye.’
Her right hand was visible as she related dramatic moments from her past
Throughout her testimony, Amber was expressive with her hands as she told in graphic detail how Depp allegedly abused her.
Judi said her gestures were ‘congruent’ with the emotions she was expressing in her evidence.
She said: ‘Her right hand was visible as she related dramatic moments from her past and in general her gestures began before her words were formed, which is usually a sign of authenticity.
‘She used whole volleys of illustrative or mime gestures as she related moments and events in detail, which would again suggest she was seeing them in her mind.’
Johnny regularly avoided the gaze of his ex-wife as she took to the stand yesterday while she regularly faced him down
Johnny regularly avoided the gaze of his ex-wife as she took to the stand yesterday.
But in contrast, she regularly faced him down and stared at him while giving her testimony about his alleged abuse.
Judi said: ‘While Jonny rarely if ever looked at his ex-wife, who was sitting directly in front of him, she did seem to look at him.
‘This, too, can be analysed in two different ways: was it a signal of dominance and power or was it a sign of openness and honesty?’
Heard’s half smile showed how the actress was trying to project a sense of calm at the situation but she was not feeling fully comfortable
The Aquaman star also wrinkled her nose regularly when she was ‘trying to search for the right words’
One of the tell-tale signs of Heard’s conflicted emotions was her half smile.
This showed how the actress was trying to project a sense of calm at the situation but she was not feeling fully comfortable.
Judi said: ‘We saw her talk about her childhood and her siblings and it would be true to say that her facial expressions tend to be complex, suggesting mixed emotions, even when she is talking about something that makes her happy.
‘Her smile only involved the raising of one side of her mouth.’
The Aquaman star also wrinkled her nose regularly.
Judi noticed this occurred when she was ‘trying to search for the right words’, making the testimony more genuine rather than rehearsed.