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Pedro Pascal Reveals His 'Psychotic' Method For Memorizing Lines—And It's A Lot

The 'Last of Us' star opened up about his bizarre method of learning his lines during a SAG-AFTRA Foundation roundtable, admitting that 'basically, I'm the Unabomer.'

Pedro Pascal
Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images

Actors deserve more credit for the work they do on and offscreen to facilitate their storytelling in various forms of media.

Audiences usually don't see the insane amount of preparation it takes to bring characters to life. Memorizing lines is an integral part of the tedious rehearsal process, of course, and there's a lot at stake.

There's nothing out of the ordinary about doing multiple takes before the director is satisfied with the perfect camera angle, lighting, and nuances brought by the actors. But doing repeated takes because an actor keeps flubbing a line isn't a good look.

To avoid such time-wasting gaffes and to ensure what their characters are expressing becomes second nature, actors do whatever it takes to commit the lines to memory, and there is no one way to go about this.

The Mandalorian actor Pedro Pascal, however, demonstrated nothing is off limits when it comes to memorizing lines.

In fact, he definitely raised eyebrows with his "psychotic" example that left the internet comparing him to the Zodiac Killer, the unnamed serial killer who was active in northern California during the 1960s.

The case remained an unsolved mystery...until now?

Pascal recently participated in a SAG-AFTRA Foundation roundtable with fellow Outstanding Performance by Male Actor in a Drama Series nominees Billy Crudup, Matthew Macfadyen, and Kieran Culkin to share anecdotes from the various shows they've worked on.

In response to the oft-asked question about how actors memorize lines, Macfadyen, who won two Emmys for his work on Succession, said the answer is "idiosyncratic and not articulate at all."

"It's unexplainable," he said, adding, "It's mysterious. It's weird."

Weird might be one way to describe Pascal's technique.

"I bet I can find and show you a psychotic physical example of what I now have to do to learn my lines," said Pascal as he turned to fetch a visual aid.

As his curious colleagues leaned in, Pascal produced a piece of paper with letters arranged in neat columns like on an eyechart and started explaining:

“This is like a psycho first letter of every word. You see the letters, right?"

We see them all right. But what do they mean, Pedro??

SAG-AFTRA Foundation/YouTube

After he struggled to articulate what exactly the chicken-scratch was, he quipped:

"Basically, I’m the Unabomber.”

You can watch Pascal explain his memory hack here.

Pedro Pascal, Billy Crudup, Matthew Macfadyen & Kieran Culkin I SAG Awards

Pascal continued:

“You use the first letter of each in these towers or columns, I guess, and it’s this very, very tedious way of making yourself learn the line so that you’re not making choices."

His colleagues were floored.


But it was Culkin's reaction that made users feel the most seen.

True crime aficionados declared the Zodiac Killer case closed.

Some shared Pascal's mindset...

...while others had limits.

But to each their own.

Pascal noted that his intense discipline wasn't an artistic choice but one that was a "technical way" he had to acquire "because of that terrible experience of forgetting my lines.”

The "terrible experience" he referred to was the time he performed Much Ado About Nothing for Shakespeare in the Park in 2014 and forgot his lines.

There's nothing like having a brain fart in front of hundreds of discerning New York theater enthusisasts to ensure an actor never experiences it again, live onstage or on camera.

Do whatever it takes, Pedro.

It seems to be working for ya.