Polygraph testing: well-known celebrities sit through a polygraph examination



In a previous blog post, we explored how it is only natural for the global media to latch on to the lie detection phenomenon that is polygraph testing – in the form of subjecting well-known celebrities and public figures to polygraph examinations. This not only makes the public aware of the instrument’s efficacy, but also provides for excellent entertainment and offers an intimate view into how polygraph testing works. In our previous post, we covered the results of Vanity Fair’s polygraph testing of two influential celebrities. In just a few minutes of reading, find out how the famed actresses Jennifer Lawrence and Emilia Clarke faired in their own polygraph examinations.


The girl on fire, Jennifer Lawrence




It is likely that most of you will be familiar with the charming Jennifer Lawrence, who first took the world by storm as her role as “Katniss Everdeen, the girl on fire” in the Hunger Games film franchise – starring alongside big names such as Josh Hutchinson and Liam Hemsworth. Some may not know that before this, she brought the role of the mutant “Mystique” to life in the X-Men: First Class film. Soon after the successful Hunger Game franchise, Lawrence was presented with an academy award for her brilliant performance in David O’Russell’s film Silver Linings Playbook, in which she starred alongside the much-adored Bradley Cooper.


The 31-year-old Lawrence had her big break at the age of 14 when she was scouted on a family trip in New York City, and was involved in a few smaller films before being offered a role in X-Men. Fast forward to today, and Lawrence is one of the most well-known actresses in Hollywood, well-loved for her clumsiness and happy-go-lucky attitude. As the founder of the Jennifer Lawrence foundation, she leverages donations, community events and philanthropy initiatives in order to assist institutions and organisations who provide aid to abused youths and those with intellectual disabilities.


Mother of dragons, Emilia Clarke


Best known for her role as “Daenerys Targaryen” in the extremely successful Game of Thrones series, Emilia Clarke took an interest in acting very early on in her life. The 35-year-old claimed that it was her frequent visits to theatrical productions as a child that invoked in her a passion for acting, and some of her first very own performances included roles in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night and the iconic West Side Story. After graduating high school, Clarke attended the Central Saint Martins Drama Centre in London, joining other alumni such as Tom Hardy Colin Firth and Michael Fassbender upon graduating in 2009.




After being snatched up in a leading role in Game of Thrones which first aired in 2011, Clarke’s career began to take off. Since then, she has starred in several other successful films such as Me Before You as well as Last Christmas. Clarke is well-adored for her humour and kind nature, and admired for her courage showcased during trying medical difficulties while filming Game of Thrones.


At the closure of the firs season, Clarke experienced her first aneurysm which called for an emergency operation and left her unable to properly communicate as well as chronically fatigued for some time later. Not long after, she experienced a second aneurysm. Despite her setbacks, she battled on to deliver a phenomenal performance up until the very last episode – although many fans were extremely disappointed with the way in which the show’s final season went down.


The polygraph testing conditions


Both Lawrence and Clarke sat down for polygraph testing on individual occasions, and were fitted with the standard polygraph instrument equipment, including:


The cardio-sphygmograph


This component measures the heart rate and blood pressure of the subject under questioning. It consists of a blood pressure cuff that is wrapped and attached to the subject’s arm.


The galvanograph


This component serves to record the amount of sweat produced by the subject during the test. Electrical sensors are attached to the fingertips.




The pneumograph


This component measures the respiratory rate of the subject, using a tube placed around the chest and another placed around the abdomen.


So, how does Jennifer do?


From the get-go, Jennifer is significantly nervous. This is made visible early on in the video when the polygraph testing assistant begins attaching the chest straps to the celeb before the examination has even begun. Jennifer actually expresses her nervousness about the test, even though the purpose of the examination is for entertainment alone. Vanity Fair makes use of the traditional polygraph instrument board with paper and needles to measure spikes in physiological reactions, a fact that keeps Jennifer glancing towards the instrument regularly throughout the interview, naturally increasing her nerves.


The team laugh when Jennifer admits that she feels as if she is “living a nightmare” in jest, and she remarks that the needles are “already going crazy.” Shortly after, the interviewer asks Lawrence why she is feeling so nervous, and her reaction, judging by the feedback on the interview, gave the audience something to feel sad about. “Because I feel like everybody hates me… because of the internet,” she explains simply.




One thing that Vanity Fair’s polygraph examinations on celebrities series achieves is the humanisation of the rich and the famous, giving all who may watch a reminder that insecurity and vulnerability do not disappear when the wealth starts pouring in. In fact, being in the public eye most of the time has proven to increase feelings of stress, anxiety and depression in many cases in Hollywood – time and time again. Although Jennifer makes the comment lightly, many celebrities in the past, including big names such as Robin Williams, have succumbed to the feelings of hopelessness as a result and have ended their lives after long battles with mental illnesses.


Overall, Jennifer passes her polygraph testing experience with flying colours, and fans get to learn quite a bit about her in the process. For example, Lawrence does not believe in love at first sight, nor does she believe that everyone has a soulmate. This pessimistic (or realistic) outlook on love is one aspect about Jennifer that makes her such a fan-favourite – she tells it like it is – and the polygraph instrument confirms that her words ring true, at least in her opinion. Adoring fans are given something to be excited about when Jennifer answers “yes” to the interviewer’s question of “would you date a non-celebrity?” In fact, some fans commented below the video that they would shortly be booking a ticket to Beverly Hills. Naturally, this was before her marriage to current husband Cooke Maroney.




Tensions ran high when Jennifer was asked whether she had a favourite brother – and much to everyone’s relief – the polygraph testing instrument did not reveal a spike in any activity that could indicate deception. One of the funniest moments during the test takes place when the interviewer broaches the topic of Jennifer’s involvement in the X-Men: First Class film, in which she plays the enthralling and imposing Mystique. Comically, Jennifer admits rather reluctantly that she cannot even name 5 other X-Men mutants.


The only instance of “deception” revealed by Jennifer’s polygraph examination took place when she answered “yes” to a question enquiring as to whether or not she over-tips at restaurants and bars. It appears that in that area, there is still room for improvement for the A-list celebrity. Overall, Lawrence’s polygraph examination exhibited her general sincerity and honesty – further adding to her image as an authentic and charismatic public figure.


How does Emilia Clarke do?


Emilia gets the ball rolling in her polygraph examination by expressing how “freaked out” she feels about the impending polygraph testing. Not many people know that her full name is Emilia Isobel Euphemia Rose Clarke, and when the interviewer referred to her as such, Clarke was rather impressed. Emilia remarks that there are a lot of people in the examination room, which is a deviation from the standard polygraph testing environment such as the one we maintain at Polygraph Truths.


For reliable polygraph testing results, the examination room should be free of distractions.


Ideally, it is the examiner and the subject alone in the room with no background noise or visual distractions that may influence the reactions of the subject during the test. However, since the Vanity Fair lie detection project only serves the purpose of entertainment, they do not necessarily need to adhere to lie detection environmental standards.




The interviewer goes on to ask Clarke if there is any truth to the stereotype that British people “have bad teeth.” Clarke answers yes, but admits that she may be the exception – followed by a very toothy grin in which she shows off her pearly whites. Next, the interviewer moves on to questions about some of Clarke’s more recent work, in particular, her film “Last Christmas,” in which she dons an elf costume for the majority of the film. The interviewer presents her with an image of the well-known actor Will Ferrell, who acts the lead in the Christmas favourite film “Elf.”




When asked if she drew inspiration from Ferrell’s performance in the 2003 film, Clarke attempts to mislead the audience, and this deception is detected in her polygraph examination – much to her embarrassment. “Well, I tried,” she laughs. Clarke attempts to fib once more when the interviewer moves on to questions about her starring role in Solo: A Star Wars Story. It was revealed that Emilia’s mother visited her on set and got to work convincing the head of merchandise to provide her with as many items with Clarke’s face on it as possible.


One day, when Clarke was staying at her mother’s house, she arrived home to find an entire room decorated with Emilia-themed merchandise. When asked if she loved the surprise, Emilia answered yes. This lie was caught out by the polygraph instrument – which did not seem to bother Clarke so much. She followed this revelation with the statement that “the dolls were gross.” The interviewer moves on to one truly contested question in the world of cinema and series – the question of the stray Starbucks coffee cup accidentally shot in the last season of Game of Thrones.


Cinephiles and critics alike could not help but become agitated when they spotted the out-of-place cup during one scene in an episode, and many of them took to blaming Clarke for leaving her cup out. Although questioned intensely on the matter, Emilia maintained that the cup was not hers, and eventually – after much giggling from the participants – the examiner revealed that she was telling the truth.


A light-hearted examination


Although these instances of Vanity Fair polygraph exams were performed in a light-hearted manner, the seriousness of polygraph testing must not be forgotten. Testing often occurs for a variety of reasons, such as criminal investigations, workplace incidents as well as domestic affairs. Professional lie detection companies such as us at Polygraph Truths ensure that all the correct practices are being observed, and that examinations produce as accurate results as possible with the least amount of discomfort for everyone involved.