Actors love to cry. They also love to play anger but if they can create genuine tears, that’s the holy grail. It’s a right of passage. It means they’re a real actor. An actor shedding tears, however, is usually the least effective way to make an audience shed them. What will?
When your character’s involved in an argument, don’t argue against the character with whom you have a relationship, argue for the relationship you have with the other character. The character that struggles to achieve something positive while engaged in a conflict scene is the character that makes the camera care and the one that truly moves the audience.
When creating conflict, remember the conflict that really interests the camera isn’t the conflict between two characters. It’s the conflict within a character. If two siblings are arguing and the actors focus on the anger and hurt their characters feel towards each other, the camera will observe the scene passively no matter how well played. If one of the actors focuses on the guilt his or her character feels at hurting his or her sibling while the two are arguing, the camera becomes truly involved and emotionally invested in that character. Then the camera weeps for the character and then the audience cries.
Finally, with all the other actors on the planet trying to make us cry how does the clever actor stand out from the crowd. Make us laugh. Nothing brings home the full effect of a tear-jerker more than one moment in the middle of a crying scene, when the actor makes us laugh or even smile.