Now would I lie to you?

Tim Roth was afraid to meet the scary guy who in­spired his new se­ries Lie to Me

Herald Sun - Switched On - - Front Page -

PAUL Ek­man is a rather mild­man­nered psy­chol­o­gist who just hap­pens to be in­volved in a line of re­search that scares the liv­ing day­lights out of some peo­ple. He knows when you’re ly­ing. Ek­man, 74, has spent his life doc­u­ment­ing ev­ery twitch, eye move­ment, body shift and lip quiver that of­fers clues about who is telling the truth.

His work is the ba­sis for the new se­ries Lie to Me.

How scary is Ek­man? Lie to Me ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer Sa­muel Baum ex­plains that even the crew scam­pered when they saw Ek­man com­ing.

‘‘There was a guy on our crew, this huge 250-pound dolly grip. Very con­fi­dent guy. And on the day Dr Ek­man came to set to con­sult, you just saw him go, ‘I don’t want to be any­where near that guy’. He just cleared out,’’ Baum says.

Ek­man has faced that re­ac­tion be­fore. The psy­chol­o­gist sug­gests the rea­son for the fear is that peo­ple as­sume he can read their minds. That’s def­i­nitely not the case. All he can do is put to­gether all the un­con­scious clues a per­son re­veals to de­cide who is truth­ful or not.

The se­ries, based on Ek­man’s work, stars Tim Roth (Reser­voir Dogs). The Bri­tish ac­tor plays Dr Cal Lightman, the world’s lead­ing de­cep­tion ex­pert. Not only can he fig­ure out if you are ly­ing, but he also can fig­ure out the rea­son for all the fibs. Even Roth gets a lit­tle ner­vous around Ek­man.

‘‘ You’re for­ever won­der­ing whether he’s think­ing ‘No, I don’t be­lieve you. The per­for­mance was ter­ri­ble’,’’ Roth says.

It would take years for a viewer to learn the med­i­cal skills used to solve mys­ter­ies on House. The same goes for the bone knowl­edge that serves as the ve­hi­cle for Bones. Ditto for Ek­man’s abil­i­ties.

Be care­ful what you learn, he says, be­cause know­ing the truth may not be a good thing.

‘‘The truth some­times can be painful,’’ Ek­man says. ‘‘Do you want to find out your spouse is cheat­ing? Do you want to find out your kids are us­ing hard drugs? Do you want to find out the per­son you hired is em­bez­zling? It’s your own choice. You may some­times be con­fronted with painful truths.’’

Ek­man’s book Why Kids Lie: How Par­ents Can En­cour­age Truth­ful­ness doc­u­ments his own ex­pe­ri­ence with his chil­dren.

As with House, Lie To Me fea­tures a Bri­tish ac­tor as its star, but un­like Hugh Lau­rie he has not been asked to do a US ac­cent. That makes Roth happy.

‘‘I’ve done di­alects a lot,’’ Roth says. ‘‘I know the work that goes into them and that you have to get pretty spe­cific to con­vince some peo­ple that that’s where you’re from. Do I want that added work when I’m work­ing seven days a week?

‘‘My feel­ing was it’s the kind of char­ac­ter who you have to be re­ally flex­i­ble with and play around with and you have to be re­ally light on your feet when you’re do­ing him.

‘‘To have the added weight on you of try­ing to get the ac­cent right would just be a waste of time. So it was a deal-breaker for me.’’

And as Ek­man could con­firm, Roth was not ly­ing.

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