How Does Paul Rudd Memorize His Lines?

During an appearance on Alan Alda's podcast, Rudd revealed his method for learning lines

How to Memorize Lines Paul Rudd
Paul Rudd in Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire

Paul Rudd is best known for his comedy films and his role as Ant-Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (as well as his uncanny ability to seemingly never age), but he’s also appeared on television (including joining the cast of Friends in its final seasons), voice acting, as well as Broadway, giving him quite the versatile background when it comes to acting. It also means that Rudd has to learn a lot of material as he keeps busy with his various projects.

So how does Rudd learn all those lines? During his appearance on Alan Alda‘s podcast, Rudd delved into that topic and revealed that dating back to acting school he’s learned his lines by writing them out over and over again until they stick in his memory.

Alan Alda: How do you learn lines?

Paul Rudd: I write them out.

Alan Alda: That’s interesting.

Paul Rudd: Yeah, I learned that in acting school. And when I’m doing a play, I would write them out and I would just keep writing them over and over so they were so ingrained. If I have to memorize a lot of dialog and it’s a film, I will just read them and go over them and go over them and I can memorize pretty quickly. So, there’s no hard and fast rule.

But I do find that at the end of the day, if I really need to get something down and I have a lot of dialog to memorize, I’m writing it out.

Alan Alda: I used to learn all my lines in rehearsal and on the stage because you rehearse for weeks. In movies, you rehearse for seconds.

Paul Rudd: So then are you getting your dialog and then are you walking around your house or you’re in your trailer or your dressing room and you’re just saying the lines out loud and kind of acting it out?

Alan Alda: It’s even worse than that. I turn on the iPhone and I record the whole scene. So, I have the advantage of playing a scene. The other characters are played by me in a cartoon voice so I know who’s talking.

Paul Rudd: Yeah, I’ve done it too, by the way. There’s no one way for me. Whatever it takes to get them down.

When I learned to write them out and when I was doing this at first, when I would do it as a play, it was always to try and memorize my lines before any rehearsal. And I tried to memorize them and write them out and never say them aloud. Because when you write them out, you really get them down in your subconscious in a way that you don’t when you’re just going over something. And you’re also reading the other lines from the other actors, the other characters so you know how to reply and what they’re saying, which is the most important part, or just as important.

And so that was an interesting way to start, by writing lines out, never saying them aloud and then we’d get to the rehearsal room and perform the scene or start rehearsing it.

Alan Alda: And when you’re writing it out, you’re not committed to a way of doing it.

Paul Rudd: Exactly. You’re not hearing the intonation. You’re hearing it in your head a little bit, but you’re not actually saying it aloud. And when you then get it on its feet, sometimes the words come out very differently. It’s a real discovery in a rehearsal when you haven’t actually been going over your lines.

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