In a career that has spanned three decades, Rob Lowe has been entertaining audiences of all ages with classic hits like “The Outsiders”, an iconic film that continues to reach new generations. Twenty-seven years later, Lowe’s “Sodapop Curtis” is still gaining new fans. One-third of the followers on his Twitter timeline are “Outsider fanatics” with girls as young as 14 discovering the phenomenon that is this former “Brat Pack” member. “It’s a movie that connects me with an audience who never knew me,” Lowe explains, amazed at the power the film has sustained throughout the years.
Proud to call himself “a son of the South,” Lowe was born in Charlottesville, Virginia, but grew up in Dayton, Ohio. He fell in love with acting after attending a local theatre production and was instantly hooked. While there weren’t many actors coming out of Dayton, Lowe was determined to defy the odds.
At age 12, Lowe’s mother moved him and his two younger brothers to California. He had to leave behind all the things he loved – family, friends, his Cincinnati Reds–something he admits was extremely tough. “It was a terrible time,” he recalls. Even the notion that this was where he needed to be to make it in acting wasn’t enough to make him feel better.
“I remember that first day in Point Dume, wearing my Levi Tough Skin jeans and being laughed at by the surfer boys wearing their OPI board shorts,” says Lowe. He never felt like he fit in, he recalls, admitting that it took some time to find his niche in a town full of “bad ass surfer dudes” who refused to let an outsider ride their waves. Lowe finds it ironic that all these years later surfing is his number one passion.
The ambitious star eventually made friends with kids who would also go on to find fame, including Charlie Sheen and Sean Penn. One of his earliest roles came in 1983 in the TV film “Thursday’s Child”, followed by his breakthrough film debut in “The Outsiders.” The movie opened doors that until then he had only dreamt of. “I had a vision that I would do this thing 24/7 even though I didn’t know what the result would be,” says Lowe.
After working steadily in films such as “The Hotel New Hampshire”, “Oxford Blues”, “St. Elmo’s Fire”, “Youngblood” and “About Last Night,” Lowe’s star was rising fast. Young girls everywhere had found their new teen heartthrob. He was run over by what Lowe refers to the “Teen Idol Express,” but he humbly insists it had more to do with being at the right place at the right time. “I didn’t go into acting to become famous.” While he was humbled and flattered, there was also an element that made him a bit uncomfortable, he says.
Fast-forward to the present, and the celebration of a milestone birthday this past March – his 50th. Lowe’s following as one of the sexiest men in Hollywood has not diminished and it’s obvious when watching him onscreen that he’s more than just a handsome face. Appropriately so, since the charismatic actor feels a male actor’s hey-day should be between 40-60 years old – that’s when the parts are great, he says. “I wouldn’t trade the roles I have now for the ones when I was younger.”
Even so, all of the coming-of-age movies Lowe starred in during the 80s are ones upon which he looks fondly. “I am down with the ‘Brat Pack,’” declares Lowe. It’s a phrase he loves as it defines a time where he contributed to movies that, to this day, resonate with people.
Hollywood wasn’t always kind to Lowe, though. He talks openly about not only the good but also the struggles he’s endured along the way. He became addicted to alcohol in the mid-80s, and spent time at rehab. Although his treatment there was successful, he admits, “the transition back into ‘real life’ was difficult.” Nonetheless, he reflects on that experience as “life changing” and knows the tools and knowledge acquired were something he wouldn’t have gotten otherwise.
He attributes those skills, the support from loved ones, like his wife [then girlfriend] Sheryl, as motivating factors in staying sober. In his 24 years of recovery, Lowe admits it’s been easier for him than most. “I didn’t have the need to go back. While there have been ups and downs throughout for whatever reason, there was never the need to start over from the beginning. When I was done, I was done. No amount of therapy will keep you sober if you don’t want it.”
With a new lease on life, Lowe married, had children, and continued working steadily. He wanted to watch his boys grow up, so he set his sights on projects that would keep him close to home. His television credits are extensive with hit shows like “The West Wing”, “Brothers and Sisters” and “Parks and Recreation”, as well as made-for-TV movies like, “Behind the Candelabra”, “Killing Kennedy” and “Salem’s Lot.” Tapping into both comedy and drama, Lowe enjoys going back and forth between the two genres, though he does admit that comedy’s more fun. “People are more effusive when they see comedy,” says Lowe and credits shows like “Family Guy” as one of the greatest things he’s done.
Choosing one favorite role, however, is a hard question to answer, he says. “Every actor goes through identifying their commonality with a character, yet there are also those roles in which they’re nothing like you. I like to do both,” he says. The two who come closest to exaggerated versions of him are Sam Seaborn from “The West Wing” and Chris Traeger from “Parks and Recreation.”
Living the Good Life…
In a business that can be fleeting, Lowe believes the key to attaining success and longevity is having something to offer that interest people, as well as being prepared to weather the cycles when there’s a new “It Guy” in town. Being the next big thing is something he’s quite familiar with but is also aware of the highs and lows.
“You have to be cognizant of the changing business and not over-think things … [just] go where the next opportunity is to challenge yourself,” he says. “I am open to whatever interests me,” he adds, including not only acting, but writing, producing and directing. There seems to be no limit to what the multi-talented star can do.
With an extensive resume, Lowe has also added the title of author to his repertoire with two best- selling books, “Stories I Only Tell My Friends: An Autobiography” and “Love Life,” which was will be released in paperback this coming April. A wonderful storyteller, Lowe is outspoken when talking about his life and career, sharing outrageous and funny stories. While he won’t confirm when he’ll write a third book, he says it’ll happen at some point. “I enjoyed the process enough to do it again and people’s response to me say I should.”
It’s easy to see why Lowe continues to shine as one of Hollywood’s top stars. He aligns himself with fun and interesting projects, stretching his talents as an actor and allowing himself to have a good time in the process. He’s currently part of a large ad campaign running on DirecTV in which he plays himself, along with different versions of himself, showing why it’s better to have DirecTV than cable. He describes the skits as kinetic and funny, and says he’s very comfortable poking fun at himself. Lowe can also be seen in the new Seth Rogan/James Franco movie, which opened this past October, “The Interview.” It’s a cameo, he explains, one he’s very excited about.
Up next in 2015 is the launch of Lowe’s exclusive line of men’s grooming products, called Profile, something he’s been working on for years with some of the leading labs in the country. In front of an audience since the age of 15, Lowe has been in the stylist hands of the best and brightest. Knowing most men don’t have such luxuries, he wanted to create a line that is simple, easy and accessible to all. “Everyone wants to be the best version of themselves,” he says.
Lowe is also a part of a new animated series “Moonbeam City,” coming this spring to Comedy Central. He stars as “Dazzle Novak,” a top cop who causes more problems than good in a metropolis city. The show promises to be a “politically incorrect series,” as he describes it … definitely one to watch!
When he’s not working, Lowe is involved in raising money and awareness for a variety of charities. In 2003 his mother passed away from breast cancer, and his father, diagnosed with stage 4 non-Hodgkin’s-Lymphoma at the age of 50, is still alive 25 years later. He also lost his grandmother and great-grandmother to breast cancer. In addition to raising money for charities like Stand Up to Cancer and the Susan B. Komen Foundation, Lowe makes about 20 appearances a year speaking at fundraisers around the country.
Having spent most of his life in a business that places such high importance on beauty, it’s interesting to learn his definition has little to do with the physical; it’s more about taking what’s inside and sharing your best version. If you’re fit, smart – whatever – take that to the highest level, he contends.
At the end of the day the gentleman audiences love to watch is a family man at heart, talking openly about his love for his wife of 23 years and his two sons. While the Lowe family calls Santa Barbara their home, the actor has a strong affinity for New York City and all the wonderful things it has to offer. Whether running in Central Park, eating in one of his favorite restaurants or making a trip to GEM Spa in the East Village for his favorite chocolate egg cream, Lowe is always captivated by the Big Apple.
“The city is the antithesis of the way I live back home. I love the cliché of NYC, the energy and the pace … there’s nothing like it!”