Even for an actor who has the bottle, crying on command is not easy. Everyone has their own little techniques, but sometimes it takes a little help to blubber well and that it seems real on the screen. That’s why some directors use tricks to make their actors cry. Except that sometimes, it goes a little too far, and we are still at the limit of sadism.
1. The Blair Witch Project cast were really on their own in the woods
For those who have never seen the film, basically, it features three fellow filmmakers gone into the forest to make a documentary on witchcraft. They get lost, are attacked by supernatural forces, and are never found. To make the thing as realistic as possible, the actors had to be really panicked. For this, Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez, the directors, left the three actors for several days in the forest, rationing their food and regularly scaring them so that they were always in a state close to a nervous breakdown. You could say it worked, but it’s still a very violent way of doing things.
2. Francis Ford Coppola managed to freak out Martin Sheen in Apocalypse Now
In the film which depicts the Vietnam War at its most disgusting, there is a scene, one of the first, in which Martin Sheen is cloistered in his hotel room in Saigon, completely drunk and close madness. Francis Fort Coppola really got Martin Sheen drunk for this scene and insulted him quite a few times to crack him up. The actor was dead drunk, actually injured himself with his mirror and ended up crying as we can see in the film. We are right between reality and fiction.
3. Mel Gibson insulted Gaby Hoffman when she was just 11 in The Man With No Face.
For his first feature film, Mel Gibson was already the problematic director that we know, the one who makes everyone miserable. At the time, he already allowed himself to insult his teams without problem, even with the kids. So when Mel Gibson needed a scene where 11-year-old actress Gaby Hoffman had to cry, he didn’t hesitate to yell at her until she broke down. It’s a bit scary though.
4. Coppola (again) made Winona Ryder drool over her tears in Dracula
In his film about the vampire, Coppola needed a scene in which Winona Ryder had to cry, which she couldn’t do. Frustrated, he asked Keanu Reeves, who played with Winona, to insult him. The director got into it too, until Winona literally cried. After that, he made her shoot the same scene 8 times before being satisfied and apologizing to the actress. Had to be well hooked to play in a Coppola film.
5. On the set of Stand By Me, Rob Reiner made two child actors cry
In the scene where the children are chased by a train (we put it just below), Wil Wheaton and Jerry O’Connell are very close to being run over and are crying as they run. To arrive at this rather realistic result, Rob Reiner had to belittle the two young actors by telling them that they were bad and that they would never achieve anything. It worked, that’s for sure, but we still feel sorry for the two kids.
6. Joshua Logan hurt Kim Novak to cry in Picnic
Well, here we go again, in 1956, for a rather original filming story. Actress Kim Novak was frustrated herself when she couldn’t cry for one of her scenes. Suddenly, she asked Joshua Logan to pinch her very hard so that she cried in pain and her game was convincing. It worked, but the makeup artists had to cover up all the pinch marks on her arms and the bruises that appeared afterwards. Definitely, it’s not easy to play the comedy.
7. Hitchcock played with Tippi Hedren’s phobias
This is probably the best known example on this list but also one of the most perverted. In The Birds, it turns out that the actress Tippi Hedren really had a phobia of these flying creatures. To push her over the edge and make her cry in panic, Alfred Hitchcock threw crows at her and even tied her to real birds. To this must be added the sexual harassment he subjected her to. The guy was very far from being a saint.
8. Stanley Kubrick had Shelley Duvall play the same take 127 times in The Shining.
The filming of The Shining was long and trying for the actress, and the scene where she had to hold off Jack Nicholson with a baseball bat is the best example. In order for Shelley Duvall to go to her limits, Kubrick asked her to replay the scene over and over again, without ever giving her an explanation. At the time, Duvall was already a little unstable on the psychological level, and today she is in a state of very advanced psychic fragility. The filming may have contributed to weakening it a little more.