Robert Hepler "Rob" Lowe is an American film and television actor. He garnered fame after appearing in such films as The Outsiders, Oxford Blues, About Last Night..., St. Elmo's Fire, Wayne's World, Tommy Boy, and Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me. On television, he played Sam Seaborn on The West Wing, Senator Robert McCallister on Brothers & Sisters and Chris Traeger in Parks and Recreation. Most recently, Lowe played the role of President John F. Kennedy in Killing Kennedy, a made-for-television movie that premiered November 10, 2013 on National Geographic Channel.
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Hi reddit, I’m Rob Lowe, actor, author, producer, and entrepreneur. Most recently I starred in Parks and Recreation and Killing Kennedy, and published my memoir LOVE LIFE. You probably know me from films like The Outsiders and St. Elmo's Fire. I'm excited to talk to you, so ask me anything!
me on my phone: http://imgur.com/dhhYWmf
plus Victoria from reddit will be helping me so let’s get started!
I want to first of all thank everybody for questions that have made me so happy. And made this so fun for me. And to point out to everybody in the reddit world that I (in the last 2days) have been on everything from David Letterman, to Ellen, Oprah, Bill O'Reilly, Good Morning America, NPR, and I'm doing Bill Maher tomorrow, and the ONLY Thing my kids care about is my reddit appearance.
I'm not exaggerating. My sophomore at Duke never touches base with me, and I get a text today that's all in caps, that says "WHAT?!?! YOU'RE ON REDDIT TODAY????"
This is great. I'm absolutely going to do it again.
Dear Rob, how is it that you do not age?
Well, being youthful is an inside job. Think about what youth is. It's kids, kids are enthusiastic, energetic, interested, optimistic, engaged, and curious. If you're not all of those things, you can have no lines on your face and a 32 inch waist, and no one is going to call you youthful.
Rob Lowe, John Stamos, Keanu Reeves, & Pharrell all co-own a secret island which houses the fountain of youth. We will call upon them to save us when our world is in peril.
I will go to the Island as long as I don't have to wear Pharrell's hat!
Hi Rob, thanks for doing this AMA! You are (were) LITERALLY my favorite character on P&R. Say, I was wondering if you could tell us what it was like working with Chris Farley in Tommy Boy. That's one of my favorite movies from my childhood and I always make it a point to watch it when I see it on cable.
Working with Farley and Spade, they were like a demented old married couple together. They fought over everything. From what strip club to go to at night, to who stole whose sandwich on the set, and who was spending too much time with me.
If those behind the West Wing were to approach you with a view of bringing the show back with Sam Seabourne as POTUS, would you be interested?
I think there is plenty of scope to make this happen and that there are many current issues that a modern administration would have to face that would prove far more challenging than those that Bartlet dealt with. With an idealist like Sam in the White House, they might actually come up with some viable solutions to those problems.
If Aaron Sorkin was writing it, I would be there with bells on.
Hi Rob, I'm a big fan of Parks and Rec, and while I wasn't at all familiar with your previous work, I love your portrayal of Chris Traeger so much that I will always keep an eye out for you in any other roles. I want to tell a really quick story, and maybe by the end of it I can conjure up a half assed question.
I have had a lot of trouble at job interviews in the past. I get nervous, and making eye contact with people for more than a split second is really uncomfortable for me - just a weird quirk of mine. I had a job that was truly hellish, so I decided to poke around on craigslist.. Instant success. I know not many people will find their dream job on craigslist, but I did.
Obviously, now there's a job interview incoming, with huge stakes regarding my quality of living. I then decided that for this interview, I would channel Chris Traeger and dial the confidence and effervesence up to 11. It was a tremendous success. My now boss asked me if I was good at math, to which I replied with no hesitation "I am GREAT at math!", and that was definitely (litrally) my most on-point interview moment ever, or perhaps life moment. It may sound small to some people, but in my mind doing my best Chris Traeger impersonation got me the best job in the world, and I truly thank you for the inspiration. It's hard to believe that acting can have a positive effect on someone's life, but I'm living proof.
Here's the best question I can come up with - how did being Chris affect your mood off set? Would you go home in a better mood, or worse because you "used up" all of your positive energy? I imagine at the very least it would have been exhausting to be overwhelmingly positive all day every day.
Thanks for spending money on me, someone! I was really looking forward to making this post and even typed it out last night when I saw Rob's name in the sidebar, I'm glad some people liked it.
That story makes me feel so good. Those are the kind of things that make me pause, and so grateful for my job.
And yes, there were days when I would so tired because Chris could never BE tired, and there are days which we all have where I was maybe a little melancholy or subdued or thoughtful, and Chris doesn't have those days. That was never an option. So Chris could make me tired in ways that no part had before, because of the level of enthusiasm, and yet the enthusiasm inevitably ended up powering me through the day.
I literally love parks and recreation, along with every single cast member.
Do you guys hang out off set?
Ive never seen a cast with such awesome chemistry. Everyone truly seems like best friends
It's true. The cast of Parks & Rec is just a group of unbelievably nice, humble, down to earth, hilarious friends. And they have so much in common in that they're smart, funny entrepreneurial, and I think that's why there are so many friendships on the set.
Hey Rob great work! One of my favorite characters you've done is Eddie Nero on Californication. My question is how do you get into the mindset to play someone so ridiculous and is it based off any particular people you've met/worked with?
Eddie is one of my all-time favorite roles. I could play Eddie Nero for 100 years. And NEVER get bored. I will miss him SO MUCH when Californication ends. But he is based on all of the demented, pretentious, intellectual, sexually confused, A-list Academy Award winning movie stars that I know.
Hi Mr. Lowe,
Can you please translate that scene in Wayne's World where you ordered Chinese takeout? I caught the Mountain Dew and Pepsi Cola part. What was the rest?
What was the rest of my order in Wayne's World? I don't remember what I wanted, but I am never going to forget that Wayne wanted cream of sum yung gai.
That's awesome! Is that the same box from Chris and Anne's going away party?
VERY PERCEPTIVE! The box that Ron Swanson gave me, Nick Offerman built. And it sits in my office as we speak.
Is being mistaken for John Stamos still your greatest fear?
Being mistaken for Ian Somerhalder is.
Will you marry me?
We'd have to move to Utah, clearly.
Which actor from P&R is most like their character in real life?
All of the actors have profound similarities to their characters. And that's what's so great about the writers, is that they find an interesting kernel of truth and then build on it in a kinetic way. For example, my favorite wrap gift was from Nick Offerman's woodshop. It was a beautiful maple keepsake box.
How was it working on The Stand in your earlier years? Did you get to meet Stephen King when he was on set for his cameo?
Not only was he onset for his cameo, but it's one of the few Stephen King television projects that he also actually wrote. And he was on set every day. And it was one of the great pleasures of my life, getting to spend so much time with one of my heroes.
Thanks for doing this AMA!
A few years ago you were shooting a movie in Winnipeg Canada and you caused a minor controversy when the sports bar you were in wasn’t playing the NBA Playoffs and you tweeted #trappedinahellhole. A lot of Winnipeg residents took offense but in all honesty Rob – 25 to 50% of the people living here hate Winnipeg too.
Anyway – my question is what was your favorite part of shooting in Winnipeg? And your least favorite?
My favorite part of Winnipeg is the new, up and coming, amazingly gorgeous museum that is being built there. It is one of the most beautiful buildings I've ever seen, it was not completed while I was there, but I feel like it should be open fairly soon. And I loved the lilacs while they're in bloom. Least favorite part was the programming priorities of the sports bar I was in.
I want to thank you for all your work on and off screen. I also feel it is my duty to remind you to STOP. POOPING.
But honestly, do you crack up every time you see that gif? Easily the funniest five seconds in television.
Parks & Rec has an amazing writing staff, and 99.9% of everything you see on Parks & Rec and everything you love was written by that great writing staff. But the actors are all AMAZING ad libbers, and we all have contests to see if our ad libs will make it into the show. STOP POOPING! is my crowning achievement in the ad lib department.
It's the gif that keeps on giving.
I saw on TV that you were turned down for the Billy Zane part in "Titanic". What other roles did you not get that you wished you had got?
Some roles I came close to getting, other roles I had no shot at getting. But over the years, I really wanted to be Jerry Maguire, I really wanted Kevin Bacon's part in Footloose, I would have loved to have done Andrew Lloyd Weber's male lead in Sunset Boulevard on Broadway.
But happily, there haven't been that many others.
You've been in Hollywood for more than 30 years. In that time, you've seen careers rise and fall, ingenues graduate to playing moms, and the portrait in your attic turn ever more gruesome. What's it like to literally never grow old?
Well, like I said, my dad is also a freak of nature, and one of my earliest memories of my pops was dragging him to those booths at the county fair where they guess your age and weight, and we would literally just DESTROY. Like I'd put him up there, they'd guess the age, they'd be way off, and I'd get whatever stuffed animal I wanted.
You were incredible in Behind the Candleabra - how painful was the physical transformation and how long would you have to stay like that?
It was about 2 hours every morning in makeup and hair, and I will say we shot 12 hour days, so 12 hours is a long time to have your skin pulled that tight but it was well worth it.
In an alternate universe where Rob Lowe is actually a government employee instead of an actor, would he be more like Sam Seaborn or Chris Traeger?
I would say… hmm. I think Sam Seaborn. No one could possibly as healthy as Chris Traeger.
Big fan! This is arguably my favorite scene in the entire West Wing series. As a political scientist, former fleet sailor, musician and son of a cheater it hits me square in the feels every time.
I have read that the West Wing was supposed to be primarily about Sam. Was there a moment when Aaron Sorkin pulled you aside and said the show was going in a different direction?
Aaron keeps his own counsel. And I find that that's common with true auteurs. And you have to be down to be along for the ride. And what the show became was great, so I'm glad Aaron had the chance to shape the show in the way he wanted.
Tell us something about yourself that we might find surprising.
Not a lot of people realize that I am totally and completely stone deaf in my right ear. So if you ever meet me in a crowded restaurant and are standing on my right side trying to talk to me, I'm not rude, I'm just really deaf.
What was your favorite moment while working on The West Wing?
I think there were so many, really really so many. But I'll never forget showing up with the cast and Aaron Sorkin when we were first announced as being on NBC's schedule, and all of the jaded network executives and advertising buyers and executives saw a 90 second clip and gave us a standing ovation in Radio City Music Hall, which I don't think is a very common occurrence with that crowd.
What did you eat for breakfast this morning, handsome man?
Hahaha! Today was omelets, and espresso through an IV. Like, right, directly a pick line that goes directly into my heart.
Can you tell us a little more about your character in ''Moonbeam City'' and how you got involved with the project?
WOW, so excited that you know about it already! Moonbeam City is a new cartoon that I am starring in for Comedy Central that probably won't be on the air until very early next year, and it is hilarious, wildly politically incorrect, and very very very wrong. It takes place in Moonbeam City, America's most swinging and dangerous city in 1985, and I am the coolest, most bitchin' top cop, who probably causes more crimes than he actually solves.
And Will Forte, Kate Mara, and Elizabeth Banks. So it's really too bad we couldn't find anybody good.
Hi Rob!! Would you please regale us with an amusing story or fact from the filming of Wayne's World?
I'm not telling tales out of school, he would tell you this himself, but Mike Myers was SO NEW to moviemaking, in fact it was his first movie, that on the first day of shooting, he didn't even know that you had to stand in a particular place for the camera to photograph you. When I showed him how to do it, he looked at me like "Dude… you REALLY Know your shit."
To which I replied "You know Mike, if you give me 20 or so movies to do, even I will eventually learn where to stand."
As a fan of The Outsiders growing up, what made you want to be a part of that film?
How did you end up being on Franklin & Bash? Love your appearances on the show so far.
Francis Ford Coppola was going to be the director. And he remains one of my favorite directors. And that it was clear that the best young actors of the time were all competing for the roles, so I wanted to win that survival of the fittest.
My good friend Kevin Falls is the creator of Franklin & Bash, and we have worked together on the West Wing, on the Lion's Den, and on a new show we're developing for USA Network, and Kevin had that recurring "Rob Lowe lives next door" joke and it made me laugh, and then he asked if I would be willing to come on and make an appearance, so I did it!
What about Retta and Donna?
I think the most profound difference is Donna does not have a relative that's won a Nobel prize.
Retta's aunt is a Nobel-prize winner!
Hello Rob Lowe. I am literally very very excited for this AMA. Who was you favorite person to hang out with on P&R?
It would be impossible to choose.
Amy Poehler is who you want to have a drink with.
Nick Offerman is who you want to eat a steak with.
Aziz Ansari is who you want to shop with.
Rashida Jones is who you want to hang by the pool with.
Chris Pratt is who you want to go shooting automatic weapons.
Jim and Retta are who you want to hate-watch the perfect television show with.
Do you know why Rashida really left Parks and Rec, and are you as happy and cherry in real life as your character is?
At my 50th birthday, people got up and toasted me, and it was really interesting to me that one of the reoccurring themes was my "optimism." So clearly my pals think I'm enthusiastic and optimistic, so I share that with Chris for sure.
Rashida is currently writing a very very big top secret movie. And that was her dream. She's a wonderful writer. And one of the things I love about brain trust at Parks & Rec is that they always let us do our outside endeavors and follow our passions, even to the extent of letting Rashida go when she had a great opportunity.
What kind of car is your daily driver preference? What car is or has been your most favorite to own?
Wow, I like fast. I like quick. I like sleek. So my current fave is an audi, but I also have recently gotten a motorcycle, which is my new obsession. A vintage Triumph. My favorite car to own? I've always like American muscle cars. And the only person who likes them more is my wife, Sheryl, she's obsessed with them and I often steal her pet car, which is a 1970's Corvette Stingray.
Hey Rob! Thanks for doing an AMA! I litterally could not get enough of your character on Parks & Rec', your energy was fantastic!
So quick question: are you a portobello or shiitake mushroom kind of guy? I am assuming it'd go towards the making of a delicious veggie burger of course!
Well, guess I have time for a second: what's your favourite music to chill to? In the event that it is not electronic music, do you enjoy some, and if so, which band/DJ?
(☞ﾟ∀ﾟ)☞ Rob Lowe!
Yes! Both would be in my veggie burger, but I would say it would be heavier on shiitake.
I like the Bridge channel on XM. That's my put the seat back, you know, chill in my car or by the pool, sort of half asleep, lazy sunday. And then when I need to wake up, I turn it to BPM on XM.
Who challenged you the most as an actor on The West Wing?
Everyone. It was a beautifully competitive set. No one phoned it in ever. It was kill or be killed. The best possible way. Even at 5 AM on a Monday, everyone was bringing their A-game.
What's your favorite kind of soup?
I'm very big on old school Campbell's Tomato Soup. Milk only please, don't give me the version with water.
Best and worst thing about turning 50?
I haven't found any worst. It's all been great. It was an opportunity to reflect on how blessed I've been in my life to sort of plan and strategize the next 50. I feel like I'm in a sweet spot in my life personally and professionally. And sometimes you HAVE to turn 50 to actually get your friends to show up in a room at the same time.
If they made a movie about your life, who would play you (other than yourself)?
Well, if they're making a movie about my life, you have to assume that I would have casting approval. And if I had casting approval, it would have to be one of my favorite actors.
The pre-approved list is:
And I might throw Robert Downey Jr in there. Because he already knows the stories, and has lived half of them, and was part of some of them.
How was meeting Michael Jackson??
Amazing. See, I was so lucky that I got to meet Michael, knew him a little bit, and got to see him perform many times at the height of his career. Seeing Michael Jackson at full force is what I imagine it would have been like to see Beethoven, or Elvis, or the Beatles. He had an aura around him and he seemed like he was from another planet. There's never been anybody, live, like Michael. No one will ever come close.
Who was your role model growing up?
As an actor, my role model was Paul Newman. He remains my all-time favorite, if I had to pick one. And then you know, I've had a series of role models over the years, like most kids. The first role model you have is your father, and then you have friends, and mentors along the way. But professionally, Paul Newman.
My sister is obsessed with you in The Outsiders almost as much as I'm obsessed with you in Parks and Rec. So I have a two part question, one from each of us:
Was your relationship with Patrick Swayze and C Thomas Howell really close like in The Outsiders?
How much do you say "literally" in real life conversations? It's become a part of my daily vocabulary.
Thanks so much for being here! You are literally the best.
I cried like a baby the day I said goodbye to Tommy Howell when the movie finished. We shared the same room, we did everything together, he was and I still consider him to be a true brother of mine. And Swayze was the archetypal older brother whom you could never live up to. Swayze was you know, a decade older, and so much more accomplished, and as a person, was one of those people who was great at so many different things, whether it was horseback riding, he was a classically trained ballet dancer, he recorded his own music and could play guitar, there was nothing that guy literally couldn't do.
I literally cannot stop saying that word. Although now that literally has become such a catchphrase, I literally need to find a way to begin to not say it.
What Superhero role do you think they should cast you for?
You know, I think I'd like to do a reboot of the Green Hornet. Because it's basically me driving a really cool muscle car.
What was the worst role you ever ended up taking?
Hmm. Good question. Well, I can't pick a worst because there have certainly been projects that I ended up not liking or didn't turn out the way I wanted. But I find I learn a LOT from experiences that don't go as I hoped. I usually learn more from "failure" than I do from "success."
Mr. Lowe! I admire you very much and love your work. Got your book last night, and am enjoying it. I was wondering what it is that seems to draw you to politically oriented roles? Sam Seaborn, Kennedy, the film "KnifeFight" and even, to a lesser extent, Chris Traeger? Thank you!
Aw thank YOU. I think it's like John Wayne playing cowboys? I just seem to play characters who are politically minded and I'm interested in stories about power, and the sort of underhanded and beautiful things that go on in that kind of a world. And someone once said to me, do you ever get tired of working in that genre? And I said "No, it's my version of a western. You can never be in too many westerns."
What was your favorite bad guy role you've ever played? You were pretty bad ass in Bad Influence.
My part in Bad Influence, and the movie itself, I really love a lot. I think that movie was really ahead of its time, and is a really perfect look at sort of life on the dark side in Los Angeles at the dawn of the 90s.
What is your favorite snack food?
Anything made by Hostess that can be bought at a gas station.
Not that I'm obsessed with this subject or anything, but when Hostess went out of business for a minute, I wore a black armband in the shape of a Chocodile for a week.
What's the plot of the worst script you've read? There has to be quite a few doozies out there.
Bonus question: If your reputation wasn't at stake, what would be the silliest movie you'd make and why?
Oh my gosh, I've read SO many bad scripts I can't even tell you! The cardinal sin is "don't be boring" and for the love of god, GET TO IT! Cut to the chase! Hook me! Move me! Make me interested! Don't take your time!
And when something is bad, you know almost immediately, and when something's good you also know that almost immediately.