Preparation and Memorization: Robert Downey Jr.

“There’s not really a lot to explore until you know it so well, backwards and forwards, one hundred and fifty percent, that you can say it backwards and forwards, one hundred and fifty percent.”

– Robert Downey Jr. on Inside the Actor’s Studio


I very much so agree with this, but I also understand needing your book and finding some of your character as you memorize.

I’ve seen people memorize their lines a specific way so that they deliver them exactly the same, every time, and I think that’s just completely missing the point.

As a character, you will not be reading lines off a script, thus the actual holding of a script and reading your lines hinders you the most as an actor.  Only once you are memorized can you even come close to finding your character.  Never will you fully find your character until you are in costume and make-up; in their shoes.

I’ve been in situations where I’ve gotten cast in a role weeks or months before rehearsals start, and more than once I’ve had a director tell me to come to the first rehearsal “off book – but don’t make any choices yet”.  And I’ve also tried to get my students to do this… and to this date, only one person has done this for me, but he made all our lives much easier, so thank you Andrew Minkin.

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