Leap of Faith

Published in March 2022 Beaufort Lifestyle Magazine

Celebrity encounters for most people are unexpected. One might even find themselves staring, awestruck, or hoping to get a quick photo. However, for Acting Coach Warner Loughlin seeing an A-lister is just another day in the office, literally. Loughlin has worked for almost four decades with some of the biggest names in Hollywood, helping them with upcoming film roles. But when she’s not living the hustle and bustle life of Hollywood, Loughlin calls the Lowcountry home.

Born and raised in Murphy, North Carolina, Loughlin originally wanted to be in film production. After high school graduation, she attended the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and majored in film and television. “I actually wanted to be a director of photography, but women weren’t allowed to take those courses back then. Crazy, isn’t it?” Loughlin says.

Upon graduation from Chapel Hill, she packed her bags and moved to New York City. Loughlin had some acting experience while in college, and she quickly fell into acting in New York. But she didn’t stay in the Big Apple for long. “I had a blast, but one day, I was doing a play that no one, including the cast, really understood! I looked into the audience and thought, ‘This would be much more fun in LA.’” Loughlin packed up her car and moved to Los Angeles.

After getting settled in the City of Angels, she began to get steady acting work. One afternoon, Loughlin grabbed lunch with a friend who happened to be a talent manager. While they were chatting, her friend mentioned that he had a client who would get callbacks for parts but could never land the gig. Since Loughlin was getting offered jobs, he wondered if she would be willing to coach him. Loughlin thought about it, and with some hesitation, agreed.

A few days later, she returned to her friend’s office, and as she walked in, she realized he was on the phone with a casting director. Once the conversation was over, Loughlin’s friend informed her that the casting director was adamant about knowing who had worked with Eddie on his audition. Loughlin’s stomach sank for a moment. “Oh, no. Did he tank it?” she thought. Then, her friend informed her that Eddie had just booked the job.

Over the next six to seven months, Loughlin’s phone began ringing with actors and actresses, hoping she could help them in the same way she helped Eddie. She did … for free. She decided to think about her options. She knew coaching actors could be a real career, but then she would have to shift her current dreams. “It was a hard decision to choose coaching over acting, but I realized that when I booked a job, I felt relief; however, when someone I work with books a job, it just floats my boat,” Loughlin smiles. She decided to take a leap of faith and pursue coaching full-time and hasn’t looked back.

Over the years, Loughlin has really built up her client portfolio working with celebrities such as, Ryan Reynolds, Amy Adams, Emma Roberts, Kyra Sedgwick, Zooey Deschanel, and many more. Loughlin explains how she works with her clients: “When an actor signs on to a movie, he or she will give me a call. I read through the script, and then we begin working on the character. We may work on scenes for months before filming ever starts.” The job doesn’t just end when filming begins. “If it’s a movie, we may be on set sometimes 14 hours a day. Sitcoms are a little easier. There’s such beauty in sitcoms. We’ll usually work three weeks on and one week off. Days are shorter and it’s nonstop laughter on set.”

Being an acting coach has its challenges as well. “I worked with Amy Adams on the HBO Series Sharp Objects. It was a very tough role because it’s an emotionally intense and psychologically deep character whose problems are extreme. It takes a lot of work, and Amy went to those dark places beautifully. Rachel Weisz just completed Dead Ringers, a series where she plays identical twins. Working to embrace two characters at once is tough, but she’s just brilliant. I love my job! Beginning a role with an actor and then watching them conquer a part or even go on to win an Oscar makes the hard work worth it.”

Loughlin’s one-woman business has grown significantly over the years. Warner Loughlin Studios now has 14 teachers and holds workshops over Zoom. Her studio offers private coaching as well as ongoing classes. Loughlin has a specific imagination-based technique that she developed over the years and can be found in her award-winning, best-selling book The Warner Loughlin Technique: An Acting Revolution.

“I spent countless hours studying how emotions are formed in the brain. I had a profound want and a need to understand others, to embrace the character’s life on a deeply emotional level,” replies Loughlin. Her son, Kyle Hansen, has even followed in his mother’s footsteps, becoming a director, writer, and producer in Los Angeles.

When it’s time to take a break from the busy city life, Loughlin heads to the Lowcountry for several months. “I have lived in the Lowcountry for over ten years and in Beaufort for just over a year now with my husband, Tony. I really wanted to be back in the South, and after some research, Tony chose Beaufort. We love it here. It’s the people, the place, the community, and I mean, you just can’t beat downtown Beaufort at the waterfront.”

In the summer 2021, Beaufort International Film Festival (BIFF) directors Ron and Rebecca Tucker reached out to Loughlin to see if she would be interested in being a part of BIFF. For over a decade, BIFF has been showcasing filmmakers in almost every genre of film. Loughlin’s role would be as a juror. She goes on to explain what this entails: “When entries to the Beaufort International Film Festival are narrowed down by the judges, the final films are then judged by the jurors. The scores are then tallied up, which leads to the winners. There are so many different entries, like feature films, shorts, animated pieces, and documentaries. It’s just a really beautiful festival, and Ron and Rebecca Tucker do an amazing job.”

The Beaufort International Film Festival does events all year, and even though Loughlin is surrounded by huge, blockbuster films while working in Los Angeles, she loves the showcase that BIFF brings to Beaufort. “I get to see all kinds of films that I may never have had the chance to see. I get exposed to films that I would never have been exposed to in another setting. I also love that many of these filmmakers are up and coming.”

But even with the more relaxed lifestyle, Loughlin’s studio work doesn’t stop when she’s at her southern home in Beaufort. “I’m still working … a lot. It’s just a more beautiful place to do it.”

When not training the next big Academy Award winner, she and Tony enjoy being downtown. “I love doing anything on the water — being on a boat, fishing. I just can’t believe we get to live here.”

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