how actors do crying scenes in movies


If one was asked to produce tears within the next few seconds, could it be done?

For actors to physically produce tears is a very difficult thing to do, especially when an actor is performing live on a stage. Generally actors, recall some sad or emotionally intense incidents to produce tears but some actors use other tricks like: to bring tears to their eyes.

Tears driven from past memories:

Most people have had a good cry some time or the other – maybe from watching a movie or after some sort of a break-up with a loved one or sometimes even watching funny video. Tears are also produced when a person experiences extreme grief or pain. Tears of joy are produced when a person experiences extreme happiness. Many actors have developed the skill to recall such memories and can produce real tears as & when required.

To produce such “memory driven tears” an actor must in touch with such memories of the past in such crying scenes. Before enacting a scene the actor recalls such memories to bring tears into their eyes. To be able to do this an actor has to recall the right memories from the past and relate the same to the script in hand to produce a emotionally charged scene.

Delving into fears: 

Sometimes actors don’t try to recall actual events to bring about tears because their past memories. So before and while doing a scene the actor imagines tragic incidents that never really happened but which could have possibly occurred. Many actors are known to perform emotionally charged scenes by imagining the loss of their pet or a member of their family while some others imagine that they are suffering from a terminal illness. The technique must be well rehearsed to avoid looking funny.

Both the techniques require lots of emotional awareness, imagination, profound past experiences and above all – constant practice.


Getting into the moment:

This technique works well for a lot of people. “Getting into the moment” means that the actor has to be totally involved with the character he is playing and the emotional situation the character is going through automatically bring tears to the eyes of the actor. This method will work only when an actor can relate strongly with the character he or she is playing. The actor and the character being played get into the same wavelength and the actor starts suffering the same emotional pain as the character he or she is playing. This can only happen if & when the actor is completely immersed in the script. Also, the script has to be realistic and emotionally moving. Many powerful playwrights like Shakespeare, Miller, and others have written such powerful and emotionally charged scripts that an actor gets totally worked up and automatically give a moving performance.

What Happens If There is No Emotional Connection?

Sometimes, actors face problem with “Getting into the moment” technique because the script does not suit this technique. For instance, what happens if an actor has to cry but is not sufficiently moved to produce tears? Actors sometimes have to act in poorly written, unrealistic plays where it is nearly impossible to get emotionally involved in the script and it is almost impossible to relate to the character being played.

In such cases, there are some “tricks of the trade” which can help.

When the actor is feeling no emotional connection, no sad memories or no recall of grief stricken fears then some of the following methods can be tried.

The actor can close the eyes, rub them (not hard enough to heart the eyes) and Voila – the Actor is ready to cry! While delivering the lines, the actor has to make certain that he or she does not blink but should just continue to stare. Generally, by staring constantly without blinking for over 30 seconds will automatically bring water to the eyes. These will be real tears.

How do they cry on movies and television?

TV and movies actors work with a large crew of director, video technicians & other artists behind scene sometimes find it difficult to get into the role they are playing while they get involved in crying scenes. Some actors try to use the techniques mentioned above while many opt for an easier method by using menthol.

A “tear stick” and “tear producers” with menthol are tools of the actor’s trade. An application of the menthol stick under the eyes or the spray of a tear producer brings instant tears into the eyes and are ready made solutions to the problem of “tears on demand”.

However, an actor has to always bear in mind that crying is something more than just tears in the actor’s eyes. Spectators of get emotional when they see crying men in movies. Tears are not the only means of expressing grief or happiness. The importance of body language is also paramount.



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