Ask Me: How do actors cry on cue?

Anonymous asked

How do actors cry on cue?

There are so many different approaches to crying.

Sally Field was on Inside the Actors Studio and talked about how she did the famous monologue in Steel Magnolias where she (spoiler alert!!) loses it at the funeral of her daughter. She described a gruesome, “method” exercise where she imagined cutting herself slowly and painfully.

Other actors talk about thinking of painful past experiences such as a dead pet, friend or relative as a means to tap into their own despair.

I knew a soap actor who literally trained the muscles in her eyes to tear up when she demanded it.

Personally, I believe that empathy is the most powerful quality/tool an actor can have. Ideally, if you attach yourself to the character you’re playing – really consider their life, their relationships and find a way to love the things they love, etc., to put yourself in their shoes – you will find that it is easy to cry when the character needs to. Much the same way we are compelled to cry when a friend or a loved one cries, or when we watch a good movie where there is an upsetting scene that  makes us well-up: all that’s happening is that we are empathizing because we are invested in their story and therefore connecting to their pain. If, as actors, we can find a way to get that invested in the life of the characters we play, then we’ll be able to do whatever is needed of us.

I have been in a number of scenes where I’ve had to cry on cue. While I have been most successful by following the empathy-path, I have been in situations where there is no rehearsal and no time with the script/character (think about soap actors – they sometimes get the script the morning of the shoot!) and I have to say that you do what ever you can do in the moment. In a pinch I have tried every technique I am aware of (except Sally’s cutting thing – that one is beyond me!) – even sticking a sad song on my ipod and listening to it right up until the moment the director yells “Action!”

I think what is important to remember is that it’s not about crying. It is about connecting to the emotional life of the characters we play and allowing the truth of those moments to express themselves through us. And in those times where we don’t have time to do that we should do whatever we can to get there. But beware! If we’re focussed of the tears bit it will be like waiting for water boil – it’ll take forever!

via The NYC Actor – how do actors cry on cue?.

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About The NYC Actor

Angela Dee is a professional actress working in Film, Theatre, TV, Commercials and Voiceovers. She currently lives in New York. www.angeladee.com

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