Whenever I’m on set, I always hear people talking about this whole “crying on cue” thing as if it’s some highly sought after skill that only certain lucky actors are born possessing. The fact is, though, that crying on cue without any emotional fuel involved is actually incredibly rare, and when it does happen, it’s usually quite unsettling and doesn’t come off as genuine at all. Sure, being able to produce tears at the drop of a hat could be considered a genetic gift, but being able to cry with emotion and depth– now that is another skill entirely, and one that can most definitely be learned by anyone who has a heart and the ability to feel.

Crying on Cue

And…. ‘ACTION’

Many actors think that crying on cue means that they just have to start sobbing right then and there, with real tears streaming down their faces and no time to prepare for such a reaction. However, that is definitely a big misconception, because usually, when you’re on set, you have hours upon hours of wait time to get in the right state of mind for the scene in which you’re supposed to get emotional. Don’t spend that time just lollygagging around; instead, use it to get so deeply into character that you become that person– their pain becomes your pain, their joy becomes your joy, etc, etc. It’s a common myth that actors should just think about whatever makes them sad and use that to make themselves cry; personally, I think that this is terrible advice, because what’s supposed to be making you cry is what’s happening to your character, not to you. Of course, you can always use your own experiences to help fuel your emotions if they’re similar to what’s going on in the script, but thinking about some random pet’s death or something like that just isn’t a good idea. Again, it won’t come off as genuine, because there are so many different kinds of pain and degrees of suffering and the ones that you should be finding should solely match with your character’s, not your own. That’s what makes for great acting.

Another thing– don’t get too caught up with the idea that you have to cry in a scene. Maybe a different reaction comes up while you’re in the midst of it and the tears don’t come, but something else equally as potent does; maybe your version of emotional is cold and quiet rather than loud and hysterical. You have so many takes in most of these things, so you might as well give your director variety and honesty in front of the camera. If you do the same thing over and over again simply because the script says “cry”, then you’re more than likely going to get stuck in an unoriginal, cliche rut that won’t make anyone happy. So trust me, trying something different from the script isn’t always a horrible thing. If the director doesn’t like it, then he’ll let you know and it’ll just be one bad take out of many. But if he does like it, then you could end up with a golden shot right then and there. In other words, trust your instincts– don’t just be a puppet to the script.

So yeah, for all of you actors who are terrified because you can’t start randomly sobbing without any provocation, don’t be too worried. There are ways to get in touch with your emotions and you’ll be surprised at how easily tears come once you get yourself in the right mindset. Believe in yourself and don’t over-think it!

Brooke –



1 Response » to “The trouble with “crying on cue””

  1. Michael says:

    I am crying just reading this.

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