For actors, being able to cry on cue is the ultimate goal. But the question is how to cry on cue?
The answer to this question depends on how to truthfully you want to act? If you are happy with just water work then answer is menthol stick or glycerine. But if you want to really cry, then you will have to create an imaginary believable circumstance that will affect you on the personal level, which in turn will bring the true tears.
If you are reading this post I hope you want to cry truthfully. So, in this article, we will concern ourselves with only those techniques that will help you get into that mental state or emotional state that produces true tears.
How do you cry on cue truthfully?
There are several methods that will help you to cry on cue. We will divide them into two parts. The first areis an emotional techniques and second is physical techniques.
Part 1: Emotional Techniques
An emotional approach to cry is one of the most used methods. However, you have to have a good amount of practice in order to use these techniques.
Believe me, any acting technique will be effective only if you practice hard. Practice is the key to learning any method acting techniques. The harder you practice more command you will have on that technique.
So here is the list of the emotional techniques that will help you to cry on cue:
#1. Connecting to the role as deep as possible.
This is by far the best method to cry on cue. However, it is also the hardest method in my opinion. All you have to do is learn everything about the character that is to know and also the other characters which are related to him or her.
Next thing that is important is the relationship with the other character. Let’s say your character lost someone whom he or she loved deeply. And just minutes ago he or she has got this awful news. If your character really loved him or her, then he will be broken to his or her core and tears will be imminent.
Now the first thing you have to do is create a believable relationship between those two characters. For this scene relationship is love. You must believe that you a character loved the other character. Because without this love, the character cannot feel the pain of losing him or her.
Once you believe in that relationship, automatically the loss of it will create the sense of pain and it may lead to tears. Remember, never force the tears, allow the true emotions to take charge.
Important to note, in this technique is you have to make each and every aspect of the character and relationship believable. More belief you have, more deeply the emotions will move you.
#2. visiting the past event that made you cry.
This is another great technique on how to cry on cue. However, here you are dependent on your past experiences. This technique will only work if you remember those experiences not vaguely but in detail.
Let’s take the same example from the above. In order to show that you lost someone and you are crying over it, you will have to visit a past experience that is similar to what is happening in the given scene.
Let’s say you may have lost someone close to you in the past, it may be a person or it may even be a pet.
How do you use this past experience in order to cry?
Well many actors or should I say many inexperience actors tend to just imagine those experience and hope somehow they will be able to cry. But it does not work for all.
So in order to cry what you really need to do in order to recreate a past experience is recreate the experience sensorily. Let me explain this by example.
Let’s say I am using an experience where I lost my pet dog. I would try to recreate him by imagining what was the color his face when first I saw his dead body, how he smelled, what noises I was hearing when I was looking at him, and how the air felt against my skin etc.
What this does is it creates the event through your senses which is more believable for your body biologically. This, in turn, makes it believable for your mind and that ultimately makes it whole circumstance real and could actually make you cry.
However, it is easier said than done. It takes years of practice to recreate experiences sensorily. I have been training my senses for more than two years to recreate experiences but I still struggle. It’s all about practice nothing else.
#3. Creating an imaginary situation that will make you cry.
Now, this acting technique is a combination of two techniques that we discussed above. You take the people from your real life and imagine a circumstance that is similar to the given scene.
The main idea behind this method is to make the circumstance, which is given to you in the story, more believable for you. For you, most of the characters are imaginary, so as an actor most of the time we are not able to connect.
A good way to tackle this problem is to make the situation more personal. So you feel the genuine emotions as the real people from your life are involved.
All you have to do is substitute the character with the person from your own life who holds the same value as the character. Now imagine him or her in the situation given in the scene. And play as it is actually happening. If you are substitutions are right and fits the situation, then you may be able to cry on cue with this method.
Frankly speaking, I am not a big fan of this physical approach to crying. However, sometimes it is hard to actually connect emotionally to a part or being able to create that particular emotion internally. You require an external stimulus that can stir you up. This method from my experience has been little unreliable. I am not saying they don’t work but they are just unreliable because you are dependent on external stimuli to affect you.
#1 listening to a song or watching a scene that makes you cry
If the methods described in part 1 are not working for you then you can use these methods. However, keep in mind that this method has nothing to do with the story or the character you are playing. You are only using a tool or stimuli that results in producing a required emotion.
Is it a bad thing not connect to a part and just play the required emotion?
I won’t say it is a bad thing but there is a flaw in this method. And the flaw is that you won’t be able to produce the right emotions at the right beat. Even if you produce a good amount of tears you won’t be able to control it because the emotions that produce the tears are not related to the given material or given situation.
However, this method is good when you don’t have time to relate to the character or the story. For instance, you can use this method during auditions. Because in auditions you are generally given the script just a few minutes before the screen test.
In order to make this method work for you prepare a bank of songs or scenes that make you cry. Keep them on your phone or some portable device so that you can listen to them or watch them just before the performance.
#2 using a trigger object
Trigger object is a psychology thing. Many psychologists state that there are objects which are associated with all events in a person’s life. So, whenever a person comes in contact with the object, the emotions experienced during the associated event can be recreated.
Let’s say, by simply seeing a dog house reminds you of sadness of losing your beloved pet.
This method demands you to find the trigger object that could lead to different emotions. If you take a minute and think about an event you will realize that there are several objects that come to your mind that Associates to that life event. I am not saying that every object is a trigger object. You have to find the trigger object for that particular event.
so here is how this method works. First, you will have to find an event from your life that is similar to the event that is happening in the given scene.
once you have that, you will have to recall the whole event and the objects that come to your mind when you recall that event. Now try to get those objects and test them.
Touch and feel those of those objects one by one. See which object creates the desired emotion.
This method may work for someone but most of the time it’s hard to find the trigger objects.
I feel only psychologists will be able to give you the right trigger objects.
Beyond this five methods, there are many more which you can use to produce tears like a menthol stick or staring blankly until your eyes or blinking continuously.
But for me, the fun lies in producing tears organically. Because when tears roll out at right time and at right beat, the scene looks awesome.
Make sure you practice every method and find the method that suits your style best. Again make sure you practice because unless and until you practice, you won’t know what works for you and what not.
If you liked this post on how to cry on cue, please share this post with your fellow actors and you can also follow us on Instagram @methodactingforme.
Our Recommended Tools
1. 100 Questions To Build A Character – Struggling to build a living, breathing, and believable character? Get my personal worksheet to build character. It has 100 questions that will help you build the character’s Physiology, Psychology, Sociology, and History.
2. Stageplays.com– Want to practice acting but don’t have the scripts. Get access to the largest library of all kinds of scripts with Stageplay.
3. Web For Actors – Want to build your own actor website that showcases your complete portfolio? Get the best website builder specifically designed for actors.