Liev Schreiber Discusses Sudden Amnesia During Broadway Performance

Liev Schreiber recently shared a harrowing experience he faced while performing on Broadway, describing a sudden onset of amnesia as an actor’s “worst nightmare.” The 56-year-old has been appearing in the play “Doubt: A Parable” since February when he encountered this unexpected condition.

Speaking on ‘Late Night with Seth Meyers’, Schreiber recounted how he developed a severe headache before one performance and realized something was amiss when he couldn’t remember his co-star Amy Ryan’s name or familiar phrases like “break a leg.” Despite expressing his concerns, the show proceeded, but shortly after beginning his lines, Schreiber found himself disconnected from his role.

“I go on, and I do about the first six or seven lines of the play, sort of automatically. I realize I’m not connected, so I decide, let me try and get connected again. And the minute I do that, it all vanishes. The play is gone from my head,” Schreiber explained. He found himself onstage, unable to recall even the play he was in, only recognizing from his costume that he was portraying a priest.

Schreiber’s condition led his understudy to take over mid-performance. Concerned he might have suffered a stroke, Schreiber was examined by a doctor friend who rushed to assist him. However, MRI scans later showed no abnormalities. A neurologist diagnosed him with transient global amnesia, a condition characterized by sudden, temporary memory loss, often triggered by physical or emotional stress.

The condition typically resolves within 24 hours, and true to form, Schreiber’s memory of his lines returned the following day. Despite being cleared to continue performances, his doctor advised additional rest. Schreiber expressed a mix of relief and embarrassment over the incident, humorously noting his disappointment that his amnesia was caused by a migraine rather than something more exhilarating.

Schreiber returned to the stage without further incidents, reflecting on the event with a blend of humor and newfound awareness of the fragility of health.

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