Leno's Oprah Interview: What Jay's Body Language Reveals
By Jo Piazza Posted Jan 29th 2010 07:18AM
Actions always speak louder than words. Which is why we asked the experts to take apart Jay Leno's Oprah sit-down with a fine tooth comb to find out what is really going on behind the chin. Yes, maybe we have seen too much Leno over the past month, but his interview with Oprah seemed different since something about Ms. O makes people tell their truth (much to their chagrin) and show off some raw emotions. We were not disappointed. But because Jay is such a consummate performer, questions remain. Was he earnest? Uncomfortable? Cocky? Why did he keep crossing and uncrossing his legs? See what our experts have to say after the jump.
Jay walked onto the Burbank set with his hands in his pockets, which according to body language expert Patti Wood, is a signal that you are preparing to hide your emotional state. When he sat opposite Oprah (the interviewee seat is an uncomfortable place for Jay) he did an "arm-leg lock", which is a male leg cross with a hand wrapped around the leg.
"That leg lock is a fascinating signal of protection," explained body language expert Patti Wood. "It was saying I am powerful but I feel the need to protect myself. He isn't used to being in the left-hand chair."
Which is totally fair since Oprah came out guns slinging. Instead of her typical celebrity soft-ball questions where everyone feels happy and at ease until she throws in a little zinger before returning to happy Oprah-land, O went at Jay with everything she had.
"Jay started gripping the arms of his chair early on in between folding them over his legs. He didn't like her taking him to that dark emotional place," Wood said. "And when Oprah asked whether the experience has changed him, his non-verbal response was to take his right hand and scratch down his cheek in sign of self-beating, demonstrating just how injured he feels."
Some of the strongest non-verbal cues that Jay was giving off came at the beginning of the interview when he told Oprah that leaving 'The Tonight Show' the first time around broke his heart. He meant it!!!
"Jay flashed what was known as a micro-expression; a facial expression that is very fleeting, but that reveals the emotion being felt at that moment. These are very hard to conceal. This micro-expression was one of sincere sadness. With this expression, the inner corners of the eyebrows are pulled up and in simultaneously, with the corners of the mouth being pulled down. If you watch closely, you can also see that his eyes became 'misty' momentarily," said body language expert Vincent Harris, author of 'The Productivity Epiphany.'
When talking about Jimmy Kimmel mocking him on his own show, Jay said "I got sucker punched. " Oprah naturally pushed and asked him how he felt about said sucker-punch.
"He extended both hands and arms as though he was pushing something away. This was indicative of being very uncomfortable with Kimmel's comments from before and wanting Oprah to move on with her questioning," Harris said.
When Oprah asked Jay if he had any hard feelings towards Conan he may have tried to sound upbeat and positive, but his body language betrayed him.
"His response was that he had no hard feelings at all. But as soon as he said that he moved an arm across his body to protect himself and rubbed his ear which is an indication of insincerity," Wood said. "It really stood out because I believe he was being honest and straightforward throughout most of the piece, but not here."
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