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Rob Lowe was born on March 17, 1964, in Charlottesville, Virginia and gew up in Ohio. Golden Globe and Emmy Award-nominated Rob Lowe most recently starred in Stephen King's mini-series "Salem's Lot." His other television credits include the series "The Lyon's Den" and "The West Wing," for which he was nominated for an Emmy, Golden Globe and SAG Award. Lowe made his feature film debut in "The Outsiders" and went on to star in "Class," "The Hotel New Hampshire," "Oxford Blues," "Youngblood," "St. Elmo's Fire," "About Last Night…" and "Square Dance," for which he received a Golden Globe nomination. He later starred in "Masquerade," "Bad Influence," "Wayne's World" and "Tommy Boy." Lowe also appeared in "Mulholland Falls," "Contact" and "Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me."
Man of the Hour, Rob Lowe
Hometown: Dayton, Ohio. (His mom, Barbara, a retired high-school English teacher, now lives in California; his dad, Chuck, a trial lawyer, still lives in Ohio.)
Current residence:Santa Barbara, Calif., where he lives with his wife of eight years,Sheryl, a makeup artist, and their sons, Matthew, 5, and John Owen, 3.
Next up: He plays the young version of Robert Wagner's character, Number Two, in Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me. "I do an impersonation of Robert Wagner that always made Mike Myers laugh," says Lowe.
Favorite color: "In the first grade, they wanted to put me in a special learning program because my favorite color was black. They thought I was profoundly disturbed, but even in first grade, I knew that black was slimming."
First sexy encounter: "When I was 8, I was playing a munchkin in The Wizard of Oz at the Dayton Playhouse, and this girl named Julie, who was 13, wanted to give me a French kiss backstage. I was thinking, I prefer American. Imagine my surprise when she went ahead and did it."
How he feels about his party-boy past: "It was a very free, anything-goes time," says Lowe, whose wild ways were documented in a scandalous sex video that surfaced in 1988. "I have a lot of great memories, but I can't imagine anything more exciting than the life I have now."
Behind the scenes: "Making The Hotel New Hampshire was insane," he says of the 1984 film that co-starred Jodie Foster and Nastassja Kinski. "Everybody was single, and the movie was kind of a bedroom farce, so you can draw your own conclusions."
How he's haunted by his old roles: "I remember going to a Halloween party in the '80s and seeing three guys dressed as me from St. Elmo's Fire, with the sax and all. I was so mortified, I hid. But this year, there was an '80s-themed fund-raiser at my son's preschool. I got my sax out of the attic and came as myself from St. Elmo's Fire."
If he could be a woman for a day: "I'd want to experience the sights and sounds of a women's locker room."
What he did on his birthday: This year we had a big party to celebrate Easter, my 35th birthday and nine years of sobriety, all rolled into one. I hid 300 Easter eggs in the backyard."
His most clever hiding place: "You mean, other than my ass? No one's found that one yet, and, boy, am I uncomfortable."
The Rob Lowe Report
A conversation with Rob Lowe reveals that the boy heartthrob of the '80s has gone the way of Reaganomics and the Rubik's Cube. Today, Lowe is a self-described "soccer dad" and husband, dividing his time between his home two hours outside of Los Angeles and the busy schedule of "The West Wing," his new television series, which airs Wednesday at 9 P.M. on NBC.
Lowe stars in the White House drama from the creators of "ER" and "Sportsnight" that is the most talked about and best-reviewed show of the new season. "I'm grateful for the blessing of my wife and sons and the life we've made together," Lowe says. "I would have walked through walls to be a part of this show because of [writer/producer] Aaron Sorkin's writing, and the fact that the show's scripts are better than 90% of the movies being made, let alone the movies that might be right for me. However, another reason I wanted to do "West Wing" was that it wouldn't disrupt my family now that my kids are starting school."
Lowe extinguished his St. Elmo's Fire youthful hellion image long ago in 1990, when he starred as a deliciously malevolent sociopath in Bad Influence. Directed by Curtis Hansen (of L.A. Confidential), the role brought him the critical respect that he had been working toward throughout the previous decade. But perhaps more importantly, Lowe met his wife of eight years, Sheryl, on the set of the movie.
"Sheryl was the makeup artist on the film. We just clicked," he says. Sheryl gave him two sons (6 and 4), and the happiness and stability that he was searching for. "It's a good time," he admits. "I have a lot to be grateful for . This evening I was driving home after a 16-hour day on the set, and the sun was setting beneath a fog bank over the Pacific. I thought to myself, remember this time in your life. The work is grueling, but I'm part of something very special."
"The West Wing" is creating new memories for Lowe, but it also connects him to other periods in his life. In it, he plays Sam Seborn -- an associate communications director for the President of the United States -- a character, he says is as close to his own personality as any he's played since the commitment-phobic Danny in About Last Night.
"That's a snapshot of me at 24," he admits. "Danny's watershed moment was when he gave his girlfriend a drawer in his dresser. That was his idea of commitment. Sam's passionate about what he does. It's the only thing he wants to do . He can't believe he got where he is. He's thinking, 'I should be so grateful.' Yet, at the same time he's thinking, 'I busted my ass to get here,' and I feel the same way. He's who I hope I am today."
Seborn is bright, glib, funny, self-deprecating, and has intense respect and loyalty for the big guy in the White House. Lowe has all those qualities -- along with a great admiration for the big guy on the set. In both cases, that guy is Martin Sheen. When Lowe was attending Hollywood High School, his running buddies were Charlie Sheen and Emilio Estevez. His boss in "The West Wing" was their commander-in-chief.
"I feel like I'm working with my dad," he says of his relationship with the man who leads the league in presidents played. "When we were kids, he whipped us on the basketball court every day. He was proud of that. We have a court here on the lot, and we had a rematch for the first time in 12 years, and it took me back to when I was 15. I won't say who won this time. Working with him has actually spared me a lot of homework. I have an incredible subtext with him -- let alone admiration."
His admiration for politics hasn't endured in the same way. Once an activist who openly stumped for candidates, his current disillusionment with the process has forced him out of the political arena. Not even a show as rooted in government as "The West Wing" can tempt Lowe to hit the campaign trail again. "Being on the show gives me all of the good of politics with none of the bad," he says.
There is a level of disenchantment that I have with the [political] process that is enough to make me want to work for something that I can see and hold in my hands," he continues. "For example, raising money for the local school system to put computers in all the classrooms, where there were none."
When Lowe can escape the confines of "The West Wing," he finds time for two of his favorite hobbies -- basketball and cigars. "I don't find running a full-court game of hoop and then smoking a cigar to be mutually exclusive concepts," laughs Lowe. "I play on my days off at the local 'Y' and there is a hoop at the studio that I can use as well." His favorite cigars? "The Montecristo #2, the Cohiba Robusto and the Romeo y Julieta Churchill in the metal tube."
Lowe has been a cigar fan for "ten or 11 years," when he would share a cigar with his grandfather on the golf course. "He passed away six years ago, and one of the ways I honor him is to enjoy a great cigar with friends or family," says Lowe.
Friends today include non-industry pals like "coaches from my son's T-ball team," as well as colleagues such as Mike Myers and "Saturday Night Live" producer Lorne Michaels. "Lorne and Mike were the first people to recognize that I could really play comedy. They saw what everyone else missed," muses Lowe. "Not only are they great sounding boards for me, but they're good friends."
Lowe met Myers and Michaels in 1990, when he hosted his classic episode of "SNL." Clips of Lowe as Arsenio Hall still crop up regularly on "Comedy Central" and SNL's "best of" specials. "Hosting the show is one of the most exciting things I've ever done, but," qualifies Lowe, "it's also completely frightening. The fear of the monologue alone has made grown men cry!"
This past summer's smash hit The Spy Who Shagged Me was the latest Myers/Lowe vehicle. "The set was very loose and everyone sensed that it was something special," he says. "Sometimes you'd have to really bite your lip to keep from cracking up." As for his dead-on Robert Wagner impression, Lowe says, "I grew up with him on TV. I just watched a lot of 'Heart to Heart' reruns!"
Now that Lowe is back on the dramatic radar with "The West Wing" are the days of movies with his funny buddies over? "Not a chance," says Lowe. "I think it's great that there's a whole generation of 10-year-olds that think I'm cool because I was in Tommy Boy."
Rob Lowe Down & Dirty
Eleven years have passed since Rob Lowe had a little too much fun at the 1988 Democratic convention. Now he's making his comeback to stardom -- and politics -- with a hot new show, The West Wing, in which he plays a randy White House aide. Brace yourselves.
Rob Lowe is lounging in his bedroom in Santa Barbara, contemplating life, love, that unfortunate incident in Atlanta 11 years ago, and what to have for lunch. "Lovey, just bring me something light," he says to his wife of eight years, Sheryl, who's worried that he hasn't eaten enough today. He is stretched out on a love seat, in front of thier bed, a fabulous fluffed-up Martha Stewart-ish extravaganza in white. "That's Lovey," he says. "Everything great in this house is Lovey. do you mind staying in this room? I love this room."
On his side of the bed is a collection of books -- homework for his new TV series, The West Wing: George Stephanopoulos's All Too Human, Dick Morris's Behind the Oval Office. "Yeah," he cracks. "This is what Rob Lowe Takes to bed these days -- Dick Morris."
Sheryl Lowe returns with an elaborate tray of crudités, picked from her garden. Her husband gently touches her cheek. "So where were we?" says Sheryl. Oh, right. Marriage. Particularly how Sheryl ended up marrying a man known for his...uh...
"Yes?" asks Sheryl.
"What people literally say to her is, 'You married Rob Lowe? Are you on crack?"says Rob.
"That's about right,"says Sheryl, laughing.
"Ellen Barkin," says Rob. "Isn't that what Ellen Barkin said to you?"
"Welll," says Sheryl, "I don't remember exactly what Ellen used to say. But she was always blown away, like a lot of people, you know? Like, 'What were you thinking?'"
"Lovey!" says Rob. "You're prone to understatement today."
From the far end of the bedroom, through the French doors, overlooking a six-acre spread of stone fountains and English gradens, come the sounds of Rob and Sheryl's two little boys, playing by the pool with their nanny. Rob steps out on the balcony and leans over to tease them, shouting "Whoo-whooo!" and wiggling his ass.
Sheryl smiles. "It's a cute one, isn't it?"
A cute one? Half the Western world knows it's a cute one. Or at least the half that managed to lay its grubby paws on a bootleg copy of the Rob Lowe sex tape -- in which America's then-leading heartthrob took an ill-timed break from the serious goings-on of the 1988 Democratic National Convention to engage in a little three-way sex on video. When the tape surfaced, in May 1989 -- 10 months after the convention, and six months after Dukakis had gotten creamed in the election (like, it was gonna hurt him?) -- it was considered so newsworthy that when Lowe turned on his television, "Tiananmen Square was the second item on the news."
Today, post-Bill and Monica (and Dick and Frank and Marv and you-name-it-gate), it seems almost comical that what created such a stir was this: that the most groupied actor in the country, the Leo DiCaprio of his time, and a single guy of 24 from Dayton, Ohio, making a million bucks a movie, might, at two in the morning, after a couple dozen cocktails and God knows what else at an Atlanta nightclub, take two women up on their offer to go have three-way sex in his hotel room. Then again, he was the most valued stud of an already winded Brat Pack, whose conquests included Melissa Gilbert, Princess Stephanie of Monaco, and Oliver North's secretary, Fawn Hall. (He always did have interesting taste in women.) "It was the '80s," as Lowe puts it. "I mean, I was certainly on the wild side. But compared to Hollywood wild, I wasn't even on the chart."
But the video -- rabidly distributed for $29.95 by Screw publisher Al Goldstein, and gleefully promoted on tabloid TV -- did a number on Lowe, espedially in Hollywood. Although he continued to work steadily (Bad Influence, Wayne's World, Contact, and, most recently, a wickedly funny cameo in his buddy Mike Myer's Austin Powers sequel), gone were the precious invites to A-list premieres, the Tiger Beat covers, the movie poster roles (About Last Night, St. Elmo's Fire), the star thing. Even recently, Hollywood insiders say, Atlanta cost him the role of the arrogant rich fiancé played by Billy Zane in Titanic. "Apparently, someone at Twentieth Century Fox -- all right, [chairman] Bill Mechanic -- thinks I'm a bad guy because of the video," says Lowe. "But hey, that's cool. One day, he may reconsider, and if he does there will be a surcharge. Okay, so I didn't get out of bed for a day, but I'm over it, really."
Since his ill-fated romp, Lowe has gotten sober, married, and wiser. He moved out of Los Angeles, the Sodom of his youth. He hasn't had a drink in nine years. He's aging nicely. "I think this 'pretty' stuff is finally over," says his wife. "He's a man now. He's not a boy." He chose as his bride his former makeup artist and best friend, the pathologically secure Sheryl Berkoff, a woman who knew everything there was to know about Rob Lowe and wasn't spooked a bit. They had kids. They built a breathtaking English country manor for their brood -- filled with Sheryl's collection of nineteenth-century English floral chintz china and their kids' collection of Star Wars toys. They hope that the statute of limitations on Atlanta is finally up.
Just in time for Lowe to make his return to stardom -- and politics. A decade after being publicly humiliated, Lowe has found his comeback vehicle in The West Wing, the hotly anticipated NBC drama about life in, of all places, the White House. It promises to be not a send-up of the current administration but a voyeuristic peek at the human foibles of the guys and gals who toil at the country's epicenter. "This is not Primary Colors for television," insists NBC Entertainment president Scott Sassa.
Lowe plays deputy communications director Sam Seaborn, a man who, like Lowe, is both idealistic and cynical, often underestimated, and smarter than he looks. Unlike Lowe, he's still having one-night stands with strangers. In the first episode, which airs on September 22, Sam accidentally sleeps with a prostitute -- who he thought was just a woman he had picked up in a bar -- then panics the next day that she'll leak it and he'll lose his job.
"You wanna watch it?" asks Lowe.
He walks downstairs and plucks the pilot of The West Wing from a massive wall lined with videos (no, not that one). He takes it into his den -- a clubby affair that could pass for the Purple Label section of a Ralph Lauren store -- and proceeds to close the drapes. On the table is an antique silver humidor filled with Cubans and a Baccarat bowl of M&M's. "My vices," he says. He presses a button and a huge screen drops above the fireplace, in front of the gilded mirror. "I need to sit on this side," says Lowe, who, deaf in one ear, switches places on the couch. "Are you comfortable?"
Lowe has watched the first episode of The West Wing "you don't want to know how many times," but still chuckles at the laugh lines (including his own) and gets all teary-eyed at the heart-tug scenes. "God, don't you love this show?" he asks as the final credits roll, and he offers to play it again.
Finally, a Rob Lowe video he wants you to see.
The night that Lowe remembers most from the 1988 Democratic convention began with a private, passionate interlude with Tipper Gore. Being in Atlanta, being the hot-shit celebrity guest of the Democrats (he had a front-row seat on the floor, just like Kitty Dukakis) was something of an intellectual milestone for Lowe. He had been a political junkie since he was eight, when he sold Kool-Aid on the sidewalk of his childhood home in Dayton to raise money for George McGovern. ("I could always pick the winners," he quips.) In 1984, when he was a budding Brat Packer and still a teenager, he bonded with Jane Fonda and her then-activist husband, Tom Hayden. Lowe signed on bigtime, helping them lobby for Proposition 65 (California's clean-water bill), showing up with Meg Ryan to protest nuclear power plants, rallying for Central American refugees, and hopping on Jane and Tom's bus, the Star-Spangled Caravan, for a three-state get-out-the-vote drive. ("You're here because you want to see a change," an announcer said at one stop. "I'm here to see Rob Lowe!" a woman shouted back.) When Hayden invited him in 1988 to join his celebrity entourage in Atlanta, Lowe was almost as tickled as the candidate, Michael Dukakis. "He was one supportive man in '88, I'll tell ya that," says Dukakis, who fondly remembers the postconvention whistle-stop tours with Lowe. "They were the best days of the campaign."
In many ways, says Lowe, his barnstorming satiated more than just his thrill for politics. "I didn't know it then," he says, "but looking back on it? It gave some meaning to my life." He wasn't just a pretty boy who partied with Jack and Demi and Judd and Sean. He was a pretty boy with a purpose. The next Warren. "I was meeting real people across the country, you know what I'm saying? I was having interaction with them about things that made a difference in their lives."
Such was the mind-set he took with him to Atlanta. And that led to a heart-to-heart with Tipper -- and Al. Lowe was on the convention floor one night when Tipper Core cornered him. At the time, the Tennessee senator's wife was best known for her crusade to slap ratings on rock lyrics, a position that endeared her to few in Hollywood. Her husband, Al, was best known for his premature attempt months earlier to be the Democratic nominee that night. Tipper was bitter. "Tell me something," she said to Lowe. "Why is it that the people in your community didn't get behind my husband?"
"Well," replied Lowe, "it's you, frankly."
"I have to say," Lowe recalls, "it's moments like those when I appreciate why people drink. I had just the right amount. Thank God for Heineken." The two of them "were off to the races after that," conversing intensely as Al glanced across the room. "You could see," says Lowe, "that it was like a thought bubble: 'Is that my wife talking to Rob Lowe?'"
Tipper ended up winning Lowe over. "She said, 'I'm misunderstood.' She had a point. But my feeling at the time was, with all the problems in the world, she picked labeling records!"
Later that night, Lowe got invited up to the Gore suite at the Atlanta Hilton and Towers -- the same hotel where he checked into so much trouble. He ended up talking to Al till the wee hours, on the eve of Dukakis's nomination. "It was sad," says Lowe. "At one point, there was nobody around. It had gotten very quiet. And with tears in his eyes, he said, apropos of nothing, 'They wouldn't even let me speak at this convention.' I felt so bad for him. But four years later, the guy's vice president. See, this is the kind of stuff I always loved about politics."
Dragging his therapist couch around the convention floor, Lowe schmoozed with Jesse and Lloyd and Mario and Teddy, while still doing his celebrity thing -- the media interviews, the gladhanding, the autographs for Dukakis, occasionally venturing out into the 100 degree heat to visit housing projects and the Jimmy Carter Library.
He had no clue that one of his extracurricular activities would someday come back to bite him on the ass, until the following year, when he learned that one of his sexual partners in Atlanta hadn't taken her SATs yet. The dirty deed happened on the Sunday night before the convention started. Lowe flew in from Paris, went to Ted Turner's party, then repaired with the rest of the "hotties" to Atlanta's Club Rio. Many hours later, he left with the wrong two women, one of whom was 16.
That she was a teenager never occurred to him, since at the club where they met, even Rob Lowe, the movie star, was carded at the door. "And believe me," says Lowe, "these women were no shrinking violets." After Lowe passed out, his precocious sex partner and her 22-year-old lesbian lover (and co-worker at the SuperHair salon) lifted the evidence from his hotel room. Nearly a year later, the younger woman's mother filed a personal-injury suit (they later settled out of court) against Lowe. Which was how the whole escapade made its way into the public record, not to mention onto A Current Affair. Tabloid TV, then in its infancy, hit one of its first gold mines with the grainy 39-minute video -- the first celebrity "Gotcha" moment that was captured on a camcorder and peddled to the public.
Oddly enough, the portion of the tape that landed in VCRs all over America wasn't even the bit with the babes in Atlanta -- or the part with him and Tom Hayden at a Braves game -- but a previous ménage à trois Lowe had indulged in, and videotaped, in Paris. We know, we know... it was the '80s! But really, what was with the videotaping?
Lowe rolls his eyes, shrugs, and tells a story of the night he ran into Hugh Hefner, shortly after the scandal erupted. Doing a dead-on Hefner imitation, he recalls how Hef grabbed him and said, "What were you supposed to do? The technology existed."
It says something about the times -- and the man -- that when Lowe woke up the next morning in Atlanta and realized the tape from his videocamera -- and $200 from his wallet -- was gone, he didn't even give it a second thought. It was an occupational hazard. He simply showered, dressed, and went back to being Michael Dukakis's top "celebrity surrogate" at the Democratic convention. "You don't know how many leather jackets I lost," says Lowe. "Petty theft" -- especially the postcoital kind -- "was part of being a movie star."
That evening, he sat riveted in his front-row seat on the convention floor, as Jimmy Carter spoke about virtue.
When the convention ended, Lowe put his career on hold for four months to stump for Dukakis until Election Day. He was such a valued member of the campaign that when he traveled with the governor and his wife, he had the seat directly behind them on the plane (the staff sat behind Lowe).
In the morning, the staff would hand him the campaign's talking points so he'd be primed for his radio interviews. He hit 12 states, drawing such huge crowds that, at one point, Dukakis said, "If things keep up this way, I'm going to have to call Lloyd Bentsen and tell him we're going to have to make Rob Lowe deputy vice president." On a campaign swing through Minnesota, Walter Mondale had Lowe to his home for dinner. ("Unfortunately," he says, "Eleanor wasn't there.") As Lowe worked the rope lines with Lloyd Bentsen, the crowd got whipped into such a frenzy (meeting Bentsen, no doubt) that the vice presidential nominee dislocated a knuckle while shaking hands.
On the night of the vice presidential debate, Lowe sat glued to the TV with Dukakis's son and two daughters and some staff in a Motel 6. "I remember us jumping up and down on this crappy bed when Bentsen told Quayle, 'You're no Jack Kennedy.' I was so pumped. It was like Kirk Gibson's Dodger home run magnified a gazillion times."
Weeks later, George Bush trounced Dukakis. Lowe watched misty-eyed as his man gave his concession speech. Afterward, he stood in the anteroom offstage with Dukakis's wife and children. "It was pretty heavy," he says. When Dukakis finished his speech, he approached Lowe. "Sorry I let you down," he said, squeezing Lowe's hand. Then he went off to hug Kitty.
The following spring, people still couldn't stop talking about what a natural Lowe was on the campaign trail. Jane Fonda gushed to Cosmo in April that Lowe was so good at charming young women that "he should run for political office someday."
In May, he went to the Cannes film festival, to screen his new movie, Bad Influence, in which he played a sociopath who videotapes a sexual encounter. While he was in Cannes, news of the lawsuit -- complete with footage -- broke in the United States. Suddenly, all his new political buddies lost his number. "I didn't call him at the time," says Dukakis. "Maybe I should have. But what do you do? What do you say?...If you talk to him, give him my best, will ya?" In fact, Rob Lowe hasn't heard from a politician since. The one overture he made -- a letter to Al Gore, expressing his sorrow after Gore's son had nearly been killed after being hit by a car -- went unanswered. "It reminds me of that great line," says Lowe. "'Jake, it's Chinatown.'"
Lowe's interest in politics ended just as abruptly. It wasn't bitterness. He had other things to deal with now. Atlanta was the wake-up call Lowe needed to get his act together. He was sick of his wastrel life and felt he was "on a decline" even before that night. "People think it started with the video. But the truth is, it started before that." The Brat Pack thing was wearing thin, the meaningless quickies even thinner. "I really came to hate, I mean hate, the screaming crazy women," says Lowe. "I was tired of people breaking into my house to steal my clothes." He was also on some level aware that the whole groupie thing had given him "a warped perspective of male-female dynamics. My computer was programmed with 'Oh, girls, right. They're the ones who stand on the street corner and show me their He also wasn't landing the sort of roles that would propel him beyond boy toy. "I was unhappy personally, I was unhappy professionally. I was unhappy." And he's been through enough psychotherapy since to realize that "that may be part of the reason I got myself into that situation."
"What's the old expression?" says his best friend, the actor Bill Paxton. "The road to excess leads to wisdom? Of all the people in this town who've paid for their fame, Rob was the most perseverant. He showed incredible grit. And he never stopped thinking about getting back on top."
At 26, he checked into the Sierra Tucson rehab center in Arizona, got himself sober, and never took a drink or a drug again. His recovery had a lot to do with Sheryl Berkoff, a Hollywood makeup artist who, one night in 1984, ended up in aerobic exercise with Lowe in the backseat of her black convertible. It might have ended there had Sheryl not started seriously dating, several years later, Lowe's then-best friend and fellow Brat Packer Emilio Estevez. Lowe blabbed to Estevez about that night in the black convertible, and Sheryl was so pissed she wouldn't even look at him for years. Then, just after the '88 election, Lowe showed up on the set of Bad Influence only to discover that the makeup artist hired to do his face every day was Berkoff. She immediately offered to be replaced, which stunned (and impressed) him. He told her to stay. Berkoff began to see Lowe as no woman had before: a small-town kid from Dayton who cried at Hallmark commercials in his trailer, loved little kids, and had a mother-lode of insecurities. "Tons," says Rob. "Where do you want to start?"
Both had been the product of numerous divorces. Lowe's father, Chuck, a Dayton lawyer, and his mother, Barbara Hepler, a former high school English teacher, split when Lowe was four. His mother married two more times -- as did Sheryl's, a former homemaker who is currently, as she puts it, "in a biker phase."
Sheryl grew up a "street smart L.A. chick," says her husband. Robert Hepler Lowe grew up a geek. He was a gregarious kid, but never felt accepted by the cool crowd, never quite felt like he fit in anywhere. When he was 12, his mother divorced for the second time, and moved him and his brother, Chad (also an actor), to L.A. to marry a California therapist. "I was not a happy camper," says Lowe. "I was so afraid. I wanted to stay in Dayton."
Once in L.A., things got even worse. At Santa Monica High (where his schoolmates included Sean Penn), Lowe was teased relentlessly for being a "sissy." "I showed up in Malibu in my Levi Tough Skins, which were chic in Ohio, and all the other kids were surfers and volleyball players. It wasn't a pretty picture." By 15, he was landing TV roles. But appearing in such failed television pilots as Thrills and Chills and Mean Jeans didn't make him any more popular. "If you were an actor, they called you gay," recalls Lowe. "People wanted to beat me up all the time. I went home with a lot of bloody noses. One guy would wait outside of wood-shop class for me to come out, and then he'd coldcock me. This was a fairly regular occurrence." And the girls? "I couldn't get any in high school. But you can cut me a break and say I couldn't get the ones I wanted."
A few gazillion women later, he got the one he wanted. Sheryl wasn't the typical nubile starlet he woke up next to. She was, says Lowe, "a real woman." After they patched up their feud, they became best friends -- who occasionally slept together. "I know it sounds strange," says Sheryl, "but as much as I adored Rob, and obviously was attracted to him, I wasn't in love with him. I thought he was too nice."
In fact, she'd often fix him up with her eager girlfriends, hosting dinner parties at her apartment to try to find him the right girl. "I loved that she would cook for me," says Rob. "Or she'd come to my house, and the place would be redecorated. Or the refrigerator would be stocked with something other than Wolfgang Puck's frozen pizzas and beer."
When Lowe checked into rehab, she was on a movie set in Seattle. One night, she took two planes and rented a car to get to Tucson "to spend family hour, or whatever the fuck they called it, with me. She was the best friend I'd ever had. I knew then that I couldn't live without her." They even got tattooed together.
"Just tell me something," says Rob Lowe one day, as he opens the massive mahogany door to his home. "How did I ever live my life without seeing The Manchurian Candidate? It's so un-fucking-believable!"
The night before, his buddy Dennis Miller, who calls Rob "a good hang," brought the classic political movie over to screen it with him. On another night, Lowe watched The War Room three or four times. "Carville's speech at the end and Henry Fonda's 'I'll be there' speech in The Grapes of Wrath are the two greatest speeches in the history of movies," he declares. "The War Room" devastates me every time I see it. I could watch it again right now. You wanna watch it right now?"
He has clearly tapped into his inner political child today. And perhaps even his inner Rob Lowe.
"You know who I find incredibly sexy? The one woman in the world I'm frothing at the mouth to meet?"
Sheryl pokes her head into Rob's Ralph Lauren lair. "Who?" she asks.
She rolls her eyes.
"You know what I've come to realize?" asks Rob. "What I really loved about politics all these years is the theater of it."
"Clearly,"says Sheryl Lowe.
Rob Lowe Saves Himself And the World
He's overcome the vices that once threatened to ruin his Life. Now he tackles the forces of evil in The Stand.
The intimate details of Rob Lowe's life have been thrust under the media microscope so many times that it seems somehow appropriate when he refers to himself from the safe distance of the third person.
"Do you want to know what Rob Lowe does in the middle of the night?" he asks.
Hey, you're the expert.
"Four A.M., he's changing diapers. Six A.M., he's sitting in the kitchen in a T-shirt and boxer shorts feeding cereal and apples to his baby. That's what he does!"
On the eve of his 30th birthday, it's almost hard to believe that this man - who takes a lunatic delight in all things domestic - was once headline material for tabloids and TV shows around the world.
But believe it: Rob Lowe knows the tortuous road of young Hollywood. He says he's done it all and tried it all. He regularly used alcohol, drugs, and sex to maintain his lead in the fast lane. It was a killer pace, and in the end, it almost killed him.
"I sat here and read obituary after obituary about River Phoenix," says Lowe, munching on a turkey sandwich at his kitchen table. "And people were just so stunned about what happened. And I thought: Why? Why? What is so stunning? Does a house have to fall on people's heads? This is just the way it goes. There is a reason that few people come out of that lifestyle: We don't have the maturity."
Lowe was fortunate to emerge from a perpetual adolescence. Credit, he says, goes to his 1991 marriage to Sheryl Berkoff, a makeup artist, and to the birth of their son, Matthew, now 7 1/2 months old, on whom he clearly dotes. The personal grounding, in turn, helped push a drifting career back on course. "It just all came together," he says. "This is a watershed year." In Stephen King's mammoth miniseries The Stand, he plays the beatific Nick Andros, a deaf-mute who functions as the tale's moral centerpiece.
Before that, Lowe starred in a BBC production of "Suddenly Last Summer" opposite Natasha Richardson and Maggie Smith. he's about to step into the shoes of Laurence Olivier, playing Mr. Darcy in "Pride and Prejudice", also for the BBC. And later this year he'll appear as the outlaw Jesse James in the western feature "Frank and Jesse", then take a comedic turn when he teams with Saturday Night Live's Chris Farley in a comedy about brothers battling for the family fortune.
But he knows that none of this could have been possible - and that it could have been Rob Lowe, and not River Phoenix, who was memorialized by friends at a Paramount screening room last November - had he not turned his life around. "I saved myself," he says. "But River decided, 'I'm still going to do drugs. Get off my back!' I decided to clean up my life. River obviously did not. If I had kept going, yes, absolutely, it could have been me."
Lowe quit the party world almost five years ago. "I was drinking enough that I couldn't stop," he says. "I experimented with drugs, but it was always the drinking. I never took a drug in my life that didn't start first with a drink. Which is why I had to stop."
Lowe went to a treatment center, "but not Betty Ford," he says. And while he was there, he had to deal not only with sobering up, but with snooping tabloid reporters. "It was so hard for me," he says. "I was in this treatment center trying to get help. And the issues of the day became not how do we overcome codependency or alcoholism, but how do we deal with the helicopters that are hovering over the pool today?"
Before he stopped, Lowe picked Atlanta and the high-profile arena of the 1988 Democratic National Convention to publicly self-destruct. His weapon of choice was a videocamera, which he used to record a sexual romp with two young women - a 16-year-old and a 22-year-old - whom he'd met at a nightclub. Portions of the x-rated home movie were later broadcast on almost every TV tabloid.
What was the craziness inside that made him tape something that could destroy his reputation?
"I got news for you," he says. "It goes on everywhere."
You mean the videotaping?
"Yeah. Even the last person who interviewed me, he told me it was too bad I got caught... Does everybody do it? No. Do a lot of people do it? Damn right!"
Nevertheless, Lowe's video put his career and his personal freedom in jeopardy when a civil suit was filed against him by the 16-year-old's mother. Lowe was not prosecuted for taping a sexual encounter with a minor, but he agreed to do 20 hours of community service in his hometown of Dayton, Ohio.
That night in Atlanta, was he drinking? He pauses. It's a time he doesn't like to talk about. "Yeah. Oh, yeah. Very much. You kidding me?" he says. "I was in a blackout. When I woke up in my hotel room, I didn't know what the hell was going on.
"You know what the truth is?" Lowe asks. "If you had a week to try to figure out Rob Lowe's life, you'd think that would be the one thing that would have major impact. But from my perspective, it wasn't just that one thing. Mostly, it was the realization that I was a complete failure in having any relationships in my life and that I did not perceive myself as a responsible person."
That perception changed when he started seeing his future wife. They met on a blind date, and then reconnected on the set of 1990's Bad Influence, when he was at rock bottom emotionally.
"I didn't have a burning bush," he says of his recovery from drugs and alcohol, "except when I realized I might have ended up ruining my relationship with Sheryl only to stay at home in a corner with my bottle of tequila. I saw where the road was leading."
Lowe leans back, reflecting on those times. Back then, he hung around with Charlie Sheen and Emilio Estevez, Sean and Chris Penn, and dated such famous women as Melissa Gilbert, Fawn Hall, Princess Stephanie, and Nastassja Kinski. Teenage girls would fall into a swoon at the mere sight of him.
Acting was his safety zone - it has been since his childhood. "My parents were divorced when I was 5," he says. "My mother remarried. I was the product of divorce-divorce-divorce. I had the rotating-father syndrome. There were times when the dynamic of the house was so uncertain that I went even more into fantasy stuff."
Girls were his undoing. He fell in love with Melissa Gilbert, who was then the star of Little House on the Prairie, when he was 17. He shakes his head. "During the making of 'St. Elmo's Fire', I was breaking up with Melissa every day. It was an awful pattern. I had no business being with her and pretending to be monogamous for one second at that point in my life."
By the time he was 20, Rob Lowe had a great deal of sexual power and Hollywood power. "I'd signed a contract with Columbia to do the Eddie Cochran story," he says. "I remember [studio head] Guy McElwaine personally showing me to my offices on the lot. They were bigger than [Saturday Night Live executive producer] Lorne Michaels' offices at Paramount today - way, way bigger. One even had a ping-pong room."
Of course, it all went to his head. Now, he has it in perspective. Looking back at Atlanta, he sees it as his subconscious's way of forcing him to come to terms with his life. "I didn't know how to stop, didn't know how to get off the hamster wheel, so subconsciously I got off the best way I could. I effectively shut down the ingénue career that was laid out in front of me."
Playing Nick Andros in The Stand should help to peel away the dismissive "Brat Pack" label that has stuck to Lowe since his St. Elmo days. "Nick is the savior of the new, good government," says Lowe. "He can't speak, he can't hear, he is flawed, but he is the savior. The irony of the character, of course, is that he'd have no life but for the end of the world. If it weren't the end of civilization as we know it, Nick would still be hitching, getting beaten up or thrown in jail. Working at McDonald's if he was lucky. Which is another subtle lesson of The Stand. Everything happens for a reason. I firmly believe that."
Rob Lowe has hope for ''Dr. Vegas''
Rob Lowe, who flopped last season in a freshman NBC drama, lost another bet Tuesday as his new series, "dr. vegas," was yanked by CBS. Calling the sudden disappearance a "hiatus," CBS announced that a repeat episode of its hit drama "Without a Trace" would air this week in the slot (10 p.m. EST Friday) followed the rest of November by reruns of "Cold Case," "CSI: Miami" and "CSI." There was no mention of a future return by "dr. vegas," which ranked 58th last week in audience with 7.3 million viewers -- losing 2.1 million viewers from its lead-in, "JAG." It was Lowe's third series in as many years. After leaving NBC's "The West Wing" in 2003, he returned in the fall to head up a legal drama, "The Lyon's Den," which was canceled midseason. On "dr. vegas" he starred as Dr. Billy Grant, the in-house physician at a posh Las Vegas casino who had a rollicking after-hours lifestyle. Lowe's co-star on the drama was Joe Pantoliano, himself on the rebound from last season's failed CBS crime show, "The Handler." "dr. vegas" wasn't the only series to have seized on Las Vegas as a storytelling site. "CSI" has made hay with crime procedurals set amid Vegas' glitz and decay, while NBC's "Las Vegas" dwells in its own glamorous casino-resort, the Montecito. In an interview with The Associated Press when "dr. vegas" premiered in September, Lowe contrasted his new series with his more sober-minded past efforts.
"I thought it would be fun to try a show that had a higher element of devil-may-care entertainment," Lowe said. "This is not HBO, not groundbreaking. That's not what I'm trying to do. ... `dr. vegas' is a guilty pleasure without the guilt -- let's hope."
Classic ''Salem's Lot: The Miniseries'' starring Rob Lowe for sale now
Ah, there’s nothing like the classics… horror classics that is and Warner Home Video has put out seven of them in time. Also, if you missed it on TNT, Warner has also released the classic Stephen King vampire thriller “Salem’s Lot: The Miniseries” starring Rob Lowe, Samantha Mathis, Donald Sutherland and Andre Braugher which originally appeared in June of this year. Here’s the low down…
Journalist Ben Mears (Lowe) returns to his hometown Jerusalem’s Lot to supposedly work on a novel but really to deal with a traumatic childhood terror he faced in the spooky Marsten house. Some new residents of the house are causing chaos and eerie happenings in town that Ben must face and conquer. No special features on this disk but no matter. Acting is fine, special effects are well-done, especially for TV. It looks clean and crisp and it will do the job of creeping you out on All Hallows Eve. Good to add to your library.
Rob Lowe and other stars help Carousel of Hope charity raise $6 million
The 16th annual CAROUSEL OF HOPE charity gala in Hollywood was awash with stars at the weekend as HALLE BERRY, OPRAH WINFREY, JAMIE-LYNN DISCALA, KRISTIN DAVIS and ROB LOWE helped raise $6 million (£3.3 million).
The event, held to benefit the BARBARA DAVIS CENTER FOR CHILDHOOD DIABETES, was partly held to honour OSCAR-winner Berry's charitable efforts.
The actress, who suffers from diabetes, was presented with the night's Brass Ring Award by pal Winfrey, who said, "I am so proud of the woman Halle Berry has become. She makes me proud to spell my name 'woman.'"Berry says, "I have diabetes, so the work that I do (for this charity) is really meaningful to me personally, but also because I do have it, I know how much it means to the millions of other people who are afflicted."
BEYONCE KNOWLES, FAITH HILL and JOSH GROBAN performed at the star studded event and auction.
Rob Lowe's Idol Chatter
As the sun fades over a West Hollywood bungalow, a mellowed Rob Lowe lights a stogie and lets fly on his duet with Snow White, losing his virginity, and his eerie resemblance to Brad Pitt
What possessed you to sing a duet with Snow White at the '89 Academy Awards?
I woke up that morning and said, "You know what I wanna do with my career? I wanna do a song-and-dance comedy number on the most serious evening in Hollywood history! That's what I wanna do!" I had to be talked into it. I learned a really good lesson.
That no one, no one involved with the Oscars, attending the Oscars, watching the Oscars, or nominated for the Oscars has an iota of a sense of humor about that evening.
In your new film [tentatively titled Fat Chance], what's the dynamic between you and fellow '80s sex symbol Bo Derek?
We're grifters. She's the beauty and I'm the brains of the operation. Lorne Michaels [the film's producer] calls my character the Wile E. Coyote of the movie because he's the brains but he's an imbecile.
In The Hotel New Hampshire, you lose your virginity to an older woman while your sister listens in on an intercom. In real life, was your initiation into manhood as bizarre?
It was an older woman. She was a friend in the neighborhood who was four years older than I was. It was my fifteenth birthday and she cooked me a birthday dinner, and afterward her friends were, like, "Oh, we'll leave you two alone." And I was, like, "Well, why? It's my birthday." I was a little dense. Then her best friend said, "Here's my present to you, but open it later." I opened it later and it was a box of condoms....About that time, the light went on.
You play Jesse James in Frank and Jesse. Are there any other historical figures you'd like to play?
I would like to play Howard Hughes. I'd be good at it.
There was a time in my life where I totally related to flying around the world in three days to set the world speed record, or reading about an interesting woman in a paper and trying to meet her. That was Hughes's MO, and for a long time it was mine as well.
What are your phobias?
I don't like being sick. Maybe that's another of the Howard Hughes things, the fear of getting sick. My mother was sick a lot when I was a kid, so if I see somebody in pajamas past a certain hour of the day I get really edgy.
Jane Fonda once said you'd make a good politician. Would you consider running for office?
No, I wouldn't. In today's forum, more than anything they want to know about where your son goes to school and what type of nannies you hired. Those are the very things that I try to avoid being brought under scrutiny, because I find that it defocuses people on your work.
Were your political ambitions derailed by the infamous videotape incident at the 1988 Democratic Convention in Atlanta?
No. I never gave running for office much thought. I am not an activist. I am not a Romeo. I'm a father, a husband, and an actor. And anything that gets in the way of that, I'm just not willing to have in my life.
If Fox made a TV movie about your tabloid scandal, who would you pick to play you?
Well, my brother and I both get confused for him so often that it would have to be Brad Pitt. If I have a goatee and longer hair, people always think that I'm him.
Do you mourn the death of the Brat Pack?
Oh God, no.
How often do you shave?
If I'm working, I shave every day. In my regular life, I shave about every three or four days. I don't like to shave. I'm lazy, basically.
What's the zaniest stunt a female fan has pulled to get to you?
I've had girls break into my grandparents' house in Sidney, Ohio, at 4 in the morning trying to find me. I've had people break into my house and sleep in my bed.
Were you home?
No, I was away at the time, thank goodness.
Do you always fall in love with your female costars?
There's something in every woman that I find beautiful, and there's something in every guy that I can find a reason to go watch Monday Night Football with. As far as actually falling for anybody...not anytime recently. When I was nineteen years old, Nastassja Kinski was awfully disconcerting to a guy from Ohio.
Did you put the moves on her?
Oh God, no! She was way too intimidating -- she was on the cover of Time magazine, for chrissakes.
Tell me about last night.
Last night I tried to teach my son to go number two in the toilet. It was not very successful. My wife and I took a hot bath together. I fed the dogs. And I shaved for the photo session today.