Thursday, July 24, 2008

REVEALED: Derren Brown Used an Actress in Trick of the Mind

Despite his standard disclaimer, Derren Brown did use an actress in an episode of Trick of the Mind. Thanks to an anonymous tip, I can reveal the following.

The Disclaimer

Derren's Trick of the Mind series, which ran for several years, opened each episode with the following disclaimer:

This program fuses magic, suggestion, psychology, misdirection and showmanship. I achieve all the results you'll see through a varied mixture of those techniques. At no point are actors or stooges used in the show.

Even though we know that Derren uses various forms of deception in his shows, it has been generally accepted that he does not use actors. As Derren has explained on several occasions, he could not get away with using actors even if he wanted to, because eventually one of them would expose him as a fraud.

The Voodoo Doll Trick

That brings us to the "voodoo doll" segment from Trick of the Mind, which is available on-line on Channel 4's official Derren Brown page (where it is called "the magic doll").

In this segment, as you will recall, Derren appears to speak with a true-believer in new-age religion. She says she has been healed with crystals, and so forth. He takes a ring from her and places it inside of a voodoo doll, explaining that he is inserting the woman's soul into the doll.

DB then makes the doll do various things (wave its arms, etc.), and the woman seems to imitate the doll against her will. In the end, Derren shows that the ring was never in the doll, and that he was merely manipulating the woman's faith in such things.

Like several of Derren Brown's other tricks, this one reminds me of a stage hypnotist's show, and I have no trouble believing he could accomplish it without the aid of an actor.

The Actress

As it turns out, though, the new-age believer in the episode is none other than Magda Rodriguez, an actress.

Her resume, available on IMDB, makes it clear that she was a professional actor before appearing on Trick of the Mind. She even includes the appearance on her resume, where she calls the show the "Derrin Brown Show," and describes her role as "Vudu Mind Player." [Spelling is apparently not her strong suit.]

In Defense of Derren

Maybe DB didn't know she was an actress. That is unlikely, because her purpose in going on the show was probably to promote her acting career.

Maybe he knew she was an actress, but she was not really acting in the episode (i.e., acting is her day job, but she was appearing on Derren's show off the clock, as a sincere crystal-healing devotee). I actually believe this is probably the case.

But it does make you wonder, doesn't it? Watch the Voodoo segment again, and see if she seems to be acting. If she was, then how many of Derren's other subjects have been acting?


Jamie said...

She may be an actor and do acting, but that doesn't necessarily mean that she was hired in to act just for this scence, when it can be acheived without. It's rather just a demonstration of the power of belief, so why would an actor actually needed to be used?

Unknown said...

Derren Brown often uses actors, e.g. Stephen Fry and Matt Lucas, but no one cares as long as they're not working according to a script. Actors tend to be suggestible, and this is the type of subject DB likes. Actors also tend to be interesting on camera, and DB and his producers want that too.

William_Tapscott said...

I agree with both of the prior comments, but there is a difference between using Stephen Fry and Magda Rodriguez.

Virtually everyone who watches Derren's show knows that Fry is an actor -- and the few who do not know that are advised of the fact in the program.

In the case of Rodriguez, though, no one was told she was an actor. Why not? I just wish it had been disclosed.

Anonymous said...

While people say she is an actress yet might not have been acting during this sequence but the question I have is this:

If she was not acting then why has she got it on her acting CV? Only an actors actual ACTING work goes on their CV. So she has it down as an ACTING job. She has very good credentials to just add this as a "oooh, Ive been on TV" kind of thing in my opinion.

William_Tapscott said...

black-sheep-ale -

You have a point. The strangest aspect of her resume for me is that she lists her role as "Vudu Mind Player."

That sounds like a role in a production. If she wasn't acting, then why didn't she characterize her appearance as a "volunteer," "guest," or something like that?

Unknown said...

All actors pad their resumes. You'd no more expect an actor to be honest about their methods than a mentalist.

Here's the point: this is one of DB's least difficult tricks. A small catatonic state, come on, if you think DB would need an actor to pull off this particular stunt, would you really be reading a blog about him now? On the other hand if one of the Heist Participants turned out to be an actor, there'd be cause for suspicion.

Anonymous said...


While I agree that actors do "fluff up" their resume, how do we know that this is her "fluffing" it up? It may actually have been an acting job. Of course, it also may not have been.

To be honest, this isnt the first "outing" we have had. There have been a few others (that I know of) who have come out and said what they did with Derren wasnt real. It all depends whether you believe in Derren's "honest about his dishonesty" statement or if you think this man is actually capable of doing everything he claims he can do. Seeing him live a few months ago, I tend to believe the "dishonesty" bit.

João Blümel said...

I have to agree with James. This is a very easy stunt to do to by any stage hypnotist. Derren "simply" knows how to turn this feat into a beautiful piece of art and entertainment.
As a professional mentalist/hypnotist myself I consider magic and mentalism the ultimate form of art and entertaiment. And let's face it: we are entertainers. The ultimate purpose of DB is to entertain. He's not here to sell his "super psychological powers". That's just part of his superb character in magic and mentalism. For me right now he's the number one entertainer in the World.
Quite frankly I think it doesn't matter if he uses or not stooges though I'd assure he doesn't use actors at least 90% of the time.
And in what concerns to this lady actress I am with James: both Derren and the producers want of course someone who can stand nicely in front of a tv camera. And in her resumé she says "featured guest". So I'd say she wasn't hired to fake it. I'd say she was hired so that the viewers could enjoy seeing a beautiful lady being envolved in a beautiful masterpiece of entertainment.

Anonymous said...

Who cares whether she is an actress or not?! I ran into people like that in my own life so I don't doubt people being too much influenced by a lot of stuff, not wanting to read their own depressed brain (the OTHER depressed brain, being to polite etc etc. People who got stuck to their chair just because someone told them that they might experience something like that .. and that it was all due to some healing energy around them ... Trust me .. I really tried to feel something .. hoping there was more to life than daily crappy simple systems all around us .. but nope.

She looked cute, a bit naive and like a potential self centered person which is more often a very good combination for manipulating someone's brain. Before becoming very self centered they might run around in the paranormal stuff.

Real life is kinda boring, isn't it. Ofcourse, Derren influences people on purpose in this area otherwise they would not do what he wants them to do.

Maybe he could not find someone suitable for the item they wanted to do on voodoo, being to popular and known. People will put up their disguises and will not work with Derren then.

Maybe Derren should do a stunt with some of the world leaders ... they are heavily under some influence as well .... wouldn't that be nice ... if someone showed them a bit about theirselves.

I'd never believe Derren's words just like that. It's not just his show .. lots at stake there ... they normally will not be honest .. the people in charge ... all about getting as much viewers as possible .. no matter what it takes. They will also mis-use people whose first intentions were not like that.

The hobbies of the actress are:

BA (Hons) Modern Languages

BASCC (Sword/Rapier/Dagger/Unarmed)

Kick Boxing/Cycling/Swimming/Yoga

Full Clean Driving Licence

Dance (Flamenco, Jazz, Contemporary, Salsa / Disco)

Martial Arts (Tai Chi / Sanjuro)

Singing / Song Lyricist / Writing / Painting

Art Teaching / Charity Work / Make Up Art

Boat Skills (rowing & motor)

Computer Literate

Nothing about healing stuff or such, and she probably wont do all this stuff either, maybe has done it once or a few time (always good for a movie/role to be familiar with lots of these kinda things)

I think she is easily influenced if you work her. You'd say we don't work people in daily life huh ... well, look around .. people don't do anything else half of the time .. all little derren brown's ... if you look close .. in a way .. if you understand the things that are being worked on ... and which not ... especially the latter.

Unknown said...

Perhaps she's just a moron actor who believes in voodoo dolls - actors generally aren't known for their intelligence, so it's entirely possible that she was just a woman who believes in the supernatural who just happens to be pursuing a career in acting.

Unknown said...

Damn, and now she's updated her IMDB resumé to reflect your suggestions. :-P I think that makes it pretty conclusive.

sapphire123 said...

The thing is, they are meant to be normal members of the public. He is meant to be proving that peoples belief systems can alter thier thinking and behavior. This is thrown out the window immediatley when the member of the public is a actress following a script. Then his entire show is based around NLP, just cos he can do it does not mean everyone in the world knows how to do this and are scamming the world. Derren you are the scammer not the people you seek to expose. Sorry sick of his everyone is out to fool you attitude, there are a lot of genuine people out there. Yes there are scammers but they aint always using NLP so show us how its really done man.

damien said...

I've looked at bothe the links posted in the story and the claims you made are false.

William_Tapscott said...

damien, No -- actually, the content on the linked pages was changed after (and perhaps because of) my post. Read through the other comments and you will see some discussion of that -

Marcos said...

I can show you (and Derren) how it's really done without manipulating anyone's beliefs and I can do it from a distance without ever meeting you (or Derren). I can do things which would scare the shit into both you and Derren. I can prove Derren Brown wrong about many things he appears to be sceptical about. I am convinced, however, that his scepticism is just an act and he already knows how real paranormal phenomena work but won't reveal so because he knows how dangerous it can be.

Wayne Smith said...

I've just found this page after reading a recent article about Derren Brown. It confirms something I have been saying to people for years, although I had no idea it had been documented here.
Fairly soon after the series had broadcast, I attended an event at BAFTA in London, where I was a member at the time. It was a reception for something or other, can't really remember, but there were several hundred people in attendance. I noticed that the lady in question was present, although I didn't know her name (and didn't until today). I watched her throughout the evening, because I couldn't place her - I knew I'd seen her somewhere though. Eventually it dawned on me that it was this episode.
I went over and talked to her a little, just small talk as you do at these events. I then mentioned that I was sure I'd seen her in the episode with Derren Brown. She immediately said that she had to use the bathroom and walked away. I didn't see her again for the rest of the evening - she basically left. Make of that what you will, but it was definitely her.

William_Tapscott said...

Wayne, thanks for the great information!