The ability to evoke powerful, authentic emotions in front of a camera or live audience is the holy grail for actors. Doing so draws viewers more deeply into a character’s struggles and the heart of the story, and it results in the cherished tears, laughter, and applauds that mean so much to everyone involved. Every actor has his or her unique way to rise to the challenge of performing emotional scenes. Here are a few insights from fellow actors about this highest goal as a performer.

“I’ve studied a technique called the Sanford Meisner technique, that teaches you how to focus. It’s mainly about daydreaming. And the technique’s really about imaginary circumstances. Using your imagination to sort of daydream about stuff. It makes you emotional in a scene.” –Sam Rockwell

“In the past, I’ve been very into the falling apart, very into the swimming in the dark, deep emotional water. ‘Rampart’ I really went into it, and it took me three times as long to get out of that depression as it did to just do the scenes. I had to learn to give it my all and then go home and laugh.” –Brie Larson

“I am one of those guys who could do the most emotional scene and crack a joke instantly. I’m lucky. I’m just like an idiot savant. I have one enormously enjoyable, pleasurable–for me–talent, which is being able to act.” –James Woods

“Yeah, you know, if I’m having an emotional scene, I do like to go off and be by myself; not to say that I’m a method actor or anything like that, but for scenes like that that are more emotional, I do like to take that night off and not be so social.” –Shay Mitchell

“You can have the most emotional moment as an actor, ever, and many people would be like, ‘Okay, cool. What’s next?’ You land one punch in a fight scene, and everyone is like, ‘Yeah!’” –Charlie Cox

“Rehearsing a scene beds a role into you. But sometimes, if you over-rehearse it without unearthing any new meaning in it, you can suddenly forget your lines. You realize that you are on a stage, not in the real world. The scene’s emotional power, and your immersion in it disappears.” –Riz Ahmed

“I cry whenever I watch an emotional scene that I did, just because it brings me back to that moment. It’s like I remember being there; I remember feeling what I felt. It’s really weird, right?” –Ansel Elgort

“I grew up with classical music when I was a ballet dancer. Now when I have to prepare an emotional scene, to cry or whatever, I listen to sonatas. Vivaldi and stuff. It’s just beautiful to me.” –Diane Kruger

“If you’re getting ready to do a really emotional scene then, right before it, you’re probably not going to be outside playing basketball.” –Emilie de Ravin

“I’m an emotional actor. When I’m doing a scene, I really believe it. I live the part as long as I’m in the scene.” –Victor Mature

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