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Do You Really have to Memorize Your Lines?

On Set Memorizing Lines Katrina Kusa Teen Actress

You're rarely away from your script as an actor. You’ll have them for auditions, read-throughs, and even rehearsing between shooting scenes. While some actors have been known to arrive on set and ad-lib their part, I personally enjoy the challenge of learning lines and the character behind them.


When preparing for an audition, memorizing your lines is of least importance. Sound crazy? Priority #1 is knowing your character!

  • What do your surroundings look and feel like?

  • What is the backstory between you and the other characters?

  • What is the time period you are living in?

  • What is your purpose or problem in the story?

After you have answers to all those questions then focus on your lines. Pay attention and respond to what the other actors in the scene are saying and doing and the dialog should flow organically.

You can effortlessly move into the character and live in that world if you’ve done your homework. Not only will you book more auditions you will have fun doing it!

Remember in many auditions you can use a script, so have it and use it if needed. Don’t feel like you can’t look at it! You can glance at the script without breaking character, then look up and re-engage the Casting Directors!  

Short Films and Movies

With both short films and movies, you’ll have plenty of time to memorize your lines if you break them down (longer scripts you can break into 1-3 pages worth of script a day). Did you know that most actors rarely memorize the entire script before shooting a movie? Though an actor needs to be familiar with the storyline, so they know what's going to happen. The truth is, many actors memorize a day or two of the script then practice their lines during alone time or at read-throughs or rehearsals.

Actors in general, have a great memory and they work on perfecting this talent. However, no matter how great your memory may be, you should know the story and character well. You want the words to come naturally and many directors may give you room to improvise within the script to make for a more realistic performance.

Break a Leg

Yes… lines are important but presenting an honest and exciting enactment is even better! Chances are most people will have memorized lines and they will all sound the same. You don’t want to sound like everyone else, you want to be sure to stand out. If you give more importance to the character and living in their environment, the Casting Director will remember you.

You are natural, exciting and ALIVE when you’re not thinking about the lines. Personally, I don’t think messing up a few words here or there will make you lose a role. However, if there is no truth or life in your performance you will not get a callback. Remember to be flexible with your choices should the CD give you a re-direct don’t paraphrase the whole scene. I believe in you!

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