The focus of popular culture for the last 6–8 weeks has been the Johnny Depp vs. Amber Heard trial. At this point, we all know that the jury sided with Johnny Depp. Both sides presented evidence and made statements. Both sides had experts and witnesses testify. So what made the jury side with Johnny Depp? The body language and facial expressions of each of the parties in the trial.
Susan Ibitz has spent the last six weeks studying body language and facial expressions from both sides of the table. In this episode of Negotiations Ninja, she shares what the body language and facial expressions in this trial told her—and what you can learn from the outcome.
Outline of This Episode
- [3:12] The outcome of the Johnny Depp vs. Amber Heard trial
- [8:58] How Amber’s body language showed she was lying
- [14:17] Amber’s team appeared grossly unprepared
- [17:09] A discussion about Johnny Depp’s body language
- [20:36] Thoughts on Dr. Hughes and Dr. Curry
- [23:02] The major lessons the audience can learn
- [25:49] How to connect with and engage Susan Ibitz
Why Susan knew Johnny Depp was going to win
Susan knew Johnny Depp was going to win the defamation case. What she didn’t realize was how much in damages would be collected. Susan works with an AI company, which is sent every piece of the trial. Every person said, “We don’t believe her.” Both sides likely lied and threw up red flags. But Amber oversold and under-delivered.
Amber said that she was the face of #MeToo. She claimed that she donated $7 million when she received her divorce settlement—but she only pledged the money. She never donated it, even though she had received her divorce settlement 13-16 months before she was sued. So when she said she couldn’t donate the money and fulfill her pledge because she was sued, it wasn’t true. When it’s proven that you lied about something at the heart of so many people—the #MeToo movement—what do you expect?
Amber wasn’t likable, she wasn’t warm, and she wasn’t believable. But Johnny was likable. He owned his mistakes, and he took his time to respond. His tone of voice and the cadence of his stories were agreeable. Someone sneezed on the jury, and he said, “Bless you.” He injected humor into the situation. Humor can be difficult, but Susan points out that this trial wasn’t about innocence or guilt. It wasn’t a criminal trial. It was about Johnny getting his reputation back that had been destroyed by the media.
How Amber’s body language showed she was lying
You have to pay attention to your makeup, hair, and clothes because every juror will look at you. Because of this, Susan works with a makeup artist to add in-depth color and tone. So when Amber showed up in court and wasn’t wearing mascara or fake lashes, Susan knew she was going to testify—and that anything she said would be a lie. Why?
When women cry, mascara runs. It’s theatrical. When you see this, no matter how unempathetic you are, you feel the need to hand them a tissue. Amber knew she was going to cry and prepared in advance by not wearing mascara. (If she had been coached properly, she would’ve worn the mascara to evoke the visceral response in the jury).
Emotions need to happen at the same time as what you’re saying. Your face has to reflect the emotion, and you can’t force it. Amber overacted. Susan loves B-type movies where everything is exaggerated. But she thought that B-movie actors deserve an Oscar compared to Amber Heard’s acting. She was poorly coached by her lawyers.
When Amber addressed the jury and said, “He punched me,” there wasn’t coherence between her words, face, and body language. Amber was smirking, laughing, and taking notes when other people were speaking. It all felt fake, staged, and scripted. And it’s why no one believed her.
A discussion about Johnny Depp’s body language
Johnny Depp was hard to read in the defamation trial. Maybe it was because we’re so used to his theatrical performances, like in Pirates of the Caribbean. But Susan Ibitz points out that to read someone’s microexpressions, body language, and words, you need to have a baseline. So Susan watched his previous media interviews. From Susan’s perspective, Johnny is very introverted and shy. When he plays a character, it’s simply that—a character.
The Johnny people saw on the stand is the same one you’ll see in all of his past interviews. He pauses and talks very slowly. During the trial, his tone of voice, his expression, and his body language—it all showed that he felt safe.
Johnny’s body language also reflected everything he said. He went “small” when things became emotional and he talked about abuse in his childhood. When he remembered those things, the lack of emotion reflected the level of his pain. Susan notes that he was consistent across the board when Amber was not.
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