A progressive new acting technique used by many of the biggest names in film and TV emphasizes building characters over mining personal traumas for more natural and engaged performances.
Loughlin’s debut book brings her eponymous acting method, employed by Hollywood stars like Ryan Reynolds, Emma Roberts, Amy Adams, and more, to performers struggling with the bad habits of more conventional teachings. Chief among these are the idea of the “tortured artist” and the many long-used but toxic exercises that encourage actors to pull from their own traumatic experiences to produce strong emotions onscreen. The Warner Loughlin Technique at first proposes an analytical approach, breaking down characters before deconstructing the scenes they’re in, then turning the material in the pages of the script into “Core Knowledge”—“the history of the character.” Extrapolating how these characters would then react from that knowledge, utilizing teachings on psychosocial development from the likes of Erik Erikson’s Hierarchy of Needs, and determining what drives these fictional players by exploring their needs and fears allows actors to perform more fluidly. More commonly accepted methods, from molding intricate backstories to actors’ examining their own emotions, still have roles. But these tactics should be kept separate from the actor’s history through strategies that permit the creation and experience of a character’s world rather than a retread of the performer’s own. Loughlin’s book has a colloquial tone, often sharing her own life experiences to illustrate certain points, as if readers are working with the author one-on-one. Some scenes and characters are provided, with detailed examples of how to assess them. These beneficial dissections come from actors as well as the author. The performers deliver not only endorsements, but also their own rich accounts of the method. For example, both Shiri Appleby and Wes McGee supply helpful and deeply intimate details of how they used the technique. Along with protecting the actor’s psyche, other valuable tips and tricks abound, including some practices to avoid: excessive note taking, memorization, and perfectionism, among them.
An impressive book details a groundbreaking and approachable acting method.