Getting your Young Actor to Cry on Cue

Scene of the Movie A Christmas to remember crying on a climatic scene
Scene of the Movie A Christmas to remember crying on a climatic scene

One of the most difficult acting skills for young children is to get them to cry on cue.  This can be very difficult for even adult actors let alone child actors. What makes it especially difficult is the fact that each scene will require several takes and the actor will need to turn on and off the tears.

The process to get Aja to cry is rather simple for her.  Aja is an emotional little girl and can cry rather easy.  In fact their hasn’t been a Disney movie yet that she wouldn’t cry in.  She will always cry regardless how many times she sees the movie, understand the plot line, and knows exactly what’s going to happen.  We would fuss at her and tell her to stop being such a cry baby, but little did we know it will be a good skill to have as a young actress.

WARNING:  Young children are very impressionable.  Getting your child in a sad state of mind consistently can effect their emotional well beings. Be careful that you don’t cause permanent emotional damages due to  using the same method to get your child to cry.   For example,  if death of a certain love one is the method of recall to start crying constantly could cause emotional issues in the future.  Young actors need to understand to separate “acting” to “reality”.

Here are the Top Tips to get your child to cry on cue:

  1. Remember a time that triggered your child to cry.  Have a discussion with them to recall that memory.  Use that moment to tap into your child’s emotions
  2. Try not to force it because it will look over ally exaggerated acting and will look fake.
  3. Take your time,  do not rush it because you feel pressure to do so.  A good director will be patient with their actors so they can capture that perfect shot.
  4. Stare at a bright light and blink really fast
  5. Use fresh cut Onions and move it under the eyes
  6. Rub Vick’s VapoRub just under the eye.  Be careful not to rub it inside the eyes
  7. Lastly the obvious is to put eye drops

Keep in mind that as an actor showing tears is not really required just because the script says it. People cry for many reasons, we have happy tears and we have sad tears. It’s important to have the body language match.   The goal is to bring real life into the script and show the raw emotions.  How is the viewing audience suppose to feel?  How realistic is this?

Here is Aja’s crying demo reel: