Jessica Chastain was on the Late Show with David Letterman recently promoting her new film, "Interstellar". Observing actors during interviews and talk shows are very good settings to watch when endeavoring to learn body language. Watch this short with the sound off and then a second time with regular volume. When great actors using the Stanislavski Method are "in character" - their nonverbals tend to be much more accurate, e.g. their words, vocal qualities and nonverbals are congruent. However when interviewed, and when they're "just being themselves" - they are often no better than average (even the Oscar winners).
What follows are two moments of Jessica Chastain's nonverbal reaction just after David Letterman spoofs "Interstellar" with a clip from a circa 1930's movie.
In this first moment during 1:17, Ms. Chastain's primary emotion is disgust. This is shown by tightening of her mid-face region and nostril flaring. It is amplified by her extended blinking.
Jessica's left arm and hand configuration are both blocking/forming barriers to Dave - yet more importantly her hand is signifying critical evaluation.
Here, less than a second later, Ms. Chastain continues yet refines her critical evaluation. Note her middle finger is both telling Dave to "shut up" and more importantly flipping him off. This is just one - yet a very classic example - for what in body language terminology is known as a "Partial Emblematic Slip" (Ekman) and is highly reliable signal. It is partial because it's not the fully displayed bird. This example is subconscious while a full bird is very conscious. An emblem is a nonverbal sign, often but not always involving the hands, the meaning of which is widely known.
Jessica is proud of her work and she believes this was a cheap shot. Note Dave is somewhat mirroring her behavior - not giving her the middle finger, but covering his own mouth with a surrogate finger (his pencil). Dave thought it was a cheap too and is regretting the low-grade jest.
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