Rob Lowe: Hollywood survivor | Inquirer Entertainment
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Rob Lowe: Hollywood survivor

By: - Columnist
/ 08:35 PM February 17, 2012

LOWE. Very public ups and downs. RUBEN V. NEPALES

LOS ANGELES—Going by the odds against him—teen stardom, heartthrob status, a bout with alcoholism, and a sex-tape scandal—Rob Lowe should be a has-been by now. But, he’s still very much around. He starred in “Untouchable: The Drew Peterson Story,” a TV biopic that just aired in the US, where he played the title role, a Chicago cop who is an accused wife-killer.

The actor is a regular on the critically acclaimed TV comedy series, “Parks and Recreation.” He even has an autobiography out, “Stories I Only Tell My Friends,” that—surprise, surprise—the New York Times praised. Janet Maslin wrote, “Throughout the book, Mr. Lowe emerges as a canny observer of both himself and others, and as someone whose instincts have grown increasingly sharp over time.”


Rob credits much of his survival, personally and professionally, to his wife of 20 years, Sheryl Berfkoff-Lowe, with whom he has two sons, Matthew, 18, and John, 16.

“It’s interesting what you think you’re going to write about, and what you actually end up writing,” Rob said about his book. Casually dressed in a black tee and pants, Rob was relaxed and humorous as he fielded questions in our press association’s office.


“The book ends up becoming a love letter to the woman who is my true partner, who helped me become who I am today. Like all marriages, ours is as complicated, passionate, interesting and sexy today as it was when we were married 20 years ago. I also know that marriage is a mystery. I’m figuring it out on a daily basis. My wife keeps me guessing. I never know on any given day when I wake up if I’m in the doghouse. You don’t want to know—but, trust me, I’m in the doghouse.”

He cracked about the time he was filming “Untouchable,” “As a husband, when I was playing Drew Peterson, apparently, I was not so good.”


At 47, Rob still has his “Brat Pack” good looks. “I take care of myself,” he said. “I don’t drink. I haven’t for 21 years by May. That puts me so far ahead of the game, right? I’m active. I came from three weeks in Hawaii. We had a break in ‘Parks and Recreation,’ so I was big-wave surfing four hours a day, a lot of times with my boys. That keeps me athletic. I take care of my skin. I have a regimen. Then, there’s genetics. Just good, old-fashioned luck. I’m going to bring my dad one of these days so you can see him.”

Rob shared other factors that contribute to his staying power: “I think it’s being flexible, not being entrenched in your views, being willing to take chances, and to take a step backward for the possibility of taking two steps forward in return,” he said. “More than anything, it’s trying to figure out what is your unique skill set. Not to just do what you can do, but to do what only you can do. There are a lot of parts I’ve played that other people could have played—and there are some parts I played that only I could portray. Inevitably, those are the ones that work. That applies in business, writing and any aspect of your life. It’s incumbent that you are able to figure out what that thing is that only you have.”

Best friends

How is he as a father? “It’s hard to self-diagnose, right?” he replied. Laughing, he added, “That’s why we have doctors. I’d like to think that, as a father, I am very involved, very hands on. My kids are my favorite people in the world. They’re my best friends, even though some say that a parent’s role isn’t to be a best friend to his kids.


“Those are competing concepts, but I want to be best friends with my kids. I love them. They’re my favorite people to talk to, hang out, travel and experience life with. They don’t need me to be their best friend—they need me to be their mentor, disciplinarian, and all those things. Trying to find that sweet spot is the challenge of parenting. I’d like to think I’m on point with that.”

For the TV movie which was based on reporter Joseph Hosey’s book “Fatal Vows: The Tragic Wives of Drew Peterson,” he had to gain weight to transform himself into the mustachioed person he was essaying.

“If this were a theatrical movie, I would have had more time to gain weight,” he said. “It was a very short schedule. I had a lot of fun eating burgers and milk shakes. There was only so much I could do, so there were some angles where I wore a padded suit. But, at the end of the movie when I do a striptease, it was all me. That’s’ all the Apple Pan and a lot of pizza. There was nowhere to hide when I was doing the striptease.”

Growing up in Malibu after his parents divorced, Rob hung out with the likes of Sean Penn and Charlie Sheen, another actor who’s had very public ups and downs. Of the latter, Rob said, “I would never ever bet against Charlie. He’s a lot smarter than he gets credit for.”

He’s also friends with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver, who are in divorce proceedings. “One of the things that I value in friendship—and I’ve seen it in my own life through my ups and downs—is loyalty,” he stressed. “I love Arnold and Maria. I’m blessed to still have them very much in my life. I talk to them regularly. It’s important to be there for friends when it’s uncomfortable—and through good and bad times!”

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