Out of the many emotions you could be asked to portray, one of the more difficult ones is crying. Personally I think laughing genuinely is more difficult than crying but I’m not sure what the consensus is. Crying is a skill I worked very hard to master and there are some tricks that can be used to get tears to stream down your face.
There are a few different methods you can try, and you’ll probably find that you need to use a combination of a bunch of them to get results.
To cry genuinely, for me, isn’t a super bright and happy thing to do. To cry I need to create in myself a real feeling of sadness. I can’t be thinking of happy things and expect myself to burst into tears when needed. This is my first method, which is to think of all sad things I can think of, the sadder they are the better. They must be things that create a real feeling of sadness within yourself.
If you have an actual audition or part in which you need to cry it is important to know all the details of why your character is crying so you can recreate the scenario for yourself. Know why you’ve come to be in the situation you’re in and what is happening so you can choose which thoughts to think and emotions to bring up. Could be angry crying, desperate crying, or hysterical crying, etc. Try to relate the situation to something you’ve experienced in your own life. Sometimes that can be difficult; one time I was playing a scene in which I had tried to poison my stepmother and it didn’t work so I kidnapped my younger sister and was pointing a gun at my stepmother and crying and screaming at her. I can’t relate to the situation entirely because I don’t have a stepmother, nor have I ever wanted to kill a person. The raw emotions that caused my character to be in such a situation can be recreated by remembering any time in which I felt extreme irrational emotion for other reasons. Extrapolate anything in you’re life to the situation of your characters, this will allow you to bring more realistic genuine emotion into your part.
Another method that works for me have been to use triggers, and a focused build up to the time in which I’m going to need to be crying. Triggers are anything that “triggers” you to cry. Over the years when I have found something that makes me overly sad I will keep note of it and whenever I need to make myself cry I will make sure to keep those around me so that they become things that remind me of crying. For myself that has been songs, trinkets that remind me of sad moments, it can be anything that resonates with you. When I’m preparing for an audition I will give myself extra time to listen to my sad songs and pay attention to other sad things which I have set as triggers to get myself into a state that is more tuned to crying and sadness. Then when I am preparing for my audition and rehearsing my lines I will put myself in the shoes of my character and make all the reasons my character is sad as real for me as possible.
One other method some people use to get actual tears falling is to move your face and body to look like it would look like if it was crying and sometimes that can create tears. This one doesn’t work for me, but the idea is to scrunch up your face in whatever manner you would if you were really crying and essentially cry but without the tears, make crying noises if that helps, hunch your shoulders. Do everything to seem like you are crying and for some people this can make tears fall.
Once you’ve built yourself up to a state of sadness, you should be able to cry with little extra effort. If you have to cry in the middle of the scene, keep this feeling in yourself and then build it up as your character would during the scene. With practise, it will come as necessary.
It is very satisfying when you become successful at crying and often times if you can just get tears to fall, you will look genuine. I once went into an audition in which I was supposed to cry and be very upset, and did so very well, and after I was finished they asked me if I was ok because they though I was actually upset. I wasn’t at all, I was just acting, but it was nice to know that I had acted well enough.
It’s not an easy to skill to master, but it comes in very useful for acting dramatic parts!