Have you ever wondered how actors cry in movies and on television? Some of the greatest scenes in history are largely thanks to the actor's ability to conjure real tears. However, sometimes they need help. That's where the makeup department comes in. Arielle Toelke, a Local 798 Makeup Artist who works in tv and film showed us four different methods that achieve four different crying results. Following is a transcript of the video.
Arielle Toelke: I'm Arielle Toelke, and I'm a makeup artist in Local 798. And I work on film and television.
There's a lot of actors that have a hard time crying when prompted. Some actors are really good at crying on cue. And some actors need a little bit of help. So we employ one method, two methods, sometimes a lot of different methods to sort of get them to where they need to be visually for the scene.
Abby Tang: I am ready to cry. I am always ready to cry.
Toelke: I feel like sometimes in a lot of comedy, you know, it'll be like one tear getting you going and running in with an eye drop. You know you're just standing right off of camera, and you can just run in and do that one drop. And you know get it ready before they roll like you know. So yes of course, there's a benefit to that.
Toelke: In addition to the actor's natural tears, we might use like a Vaseline-based product in order for it to look like there's been a lot of crying. Sometimes even if an actor's getting there, sometimes this helps them get there faster. And the artist will always have some sort of Vaseline-based product in their kit, whether it's, you know, like Aquaphor or some sort of clear gloss.
Then there's the two menthol applications. One is the Kryolan Tear Stick, which looks like a lipstick with menthol in it, and that's applied under the eyes. And that also is like a little bit kinda shiny so it sort of does do that little bit of double duty that a Vaseline-based product will. With either of the menthol products, do not get that directly in somebody's eye. Nobody's gonna like lose an eye over it, but it's definitely very uncomfortable. So using the tear stick you want to be careful when applying it that you get it close but not in the eye. And that your actor doesn't rub their eye.
Tang: Okay, yeah. Here it comes. Yep. Yep.
Toelke: Yeah, try to keep your eyes open.
Toelke: And then there's the blower, which you literally blow menthol air into somebody's eye.
Tang: Oh yeah. Now there it is. Okay.
Toelke: Which totally irritates your eyes. And the benefit to using the menthol versions is that because it's literally irritating the eye, the eye will get red. So if you've ever seen yourself after you've cried, your eyes are puffy and red. It's because you're sort of like irritating and rubbing your eye and so that menthol application does that to your actor. You always want to blow into your hand first and make sure that the cotton is there, and that it didn't move. I've heard horror stories where “Oh, I didn't know. You know somebody borrowed it, and then I blew menthol crystals in somebody's eye” and then — nobody wants that. That would just be, you know, you've completely ruined the scene for everybody.