Rob Lowe talks advocacy, acting at the SMU Tate Lecture Series
Most people know him because of the 1983 hit “The Outsiders” as Sodapop Curtis, while others know him as Chris Traeger on the ever-popular show “Parks and Recreation.” Yet Rob Lowe didn’t play any sort of character while speaking at the SMU Tate Lecture series on Tuesday night; he merely brought himself and the life lessons that he has learned.
Rob Lowe, a highly acclaimed television and film actor, visited the sold-out McFarland Auditorium on the SMU campus Tuesday night to speak. Known for his many roles in movies and shows such as “St. Elmo’s Fire,” “About Last Night,” and “The West Wing,” Rob Lowe began making his mark on Hollywood in the early 1980s. Today, he is still acting while also producing, directing, writing, and being a husband and father.[pullquote align=”full” cite=”RELATED: Each Tate Lecture requires months of planning” link=”http://smudailycampus.com/news/each-tate-lecture-requires-months-of-planning” color=”#034174″ size=”14″][/pullquote]
Lowe opened the night by sharing the moment he first knew when he wanted to be an actor at the age of 8 after seeing a production of “Oliver.” He credits his parents to letting him pursue his passions for acting.
“My mom was a big believer in following your dreams,” says Lowe of his parent’s reaction to his eight-year-old assertion that he wanted to go into acting. “My parents let me do my thing.”
With his parents blessing, Lowe began his acting career and never looked back. Lowe was nominated for a Golden Globe for “Best Performance by and Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series” for his first acting role as Sam Alden in “Thursday’s Child.” Since 1983, Lowe has been nominated for six Golden Globes, one Primetime Emmy Award, and even has his own star on the Walk of Fame.
Yet Lowe asserts that his real love is in the theater.
“The theater is where I love to be,” says Lowe. “With TV and movies, there is a machine between you and us,” Lowe says while motioning to the stage and the crowd.
Most known for his TV and movie roles, Lowe is no stranger to the spotlight. However, he reminded the audience that with great fame comes great consequences.
In his early twenties during, Rob Lowe was known for his alcohol and drug abuse. After entering rehab, Lowe has now been sober for 25 years with the help of his family and friends. He still highlights the struggle that his addictions imposed on him.
“There is trouble that goes along with being a movie star,” says Lowe of his past addictions.
“I thought ‘If I could just be an actor, it will fix me,’” says Lowe of trying to deal with his addiction at a young age. “Then I thought if I was just successful, it would fix me… and then I thought if I just got different parts… then I found out it is an inside job.”
Now sober for 25 years, he expressed how grateful he is for recovery and those who stuck with him along the way.
Lowe continued the night by sharing his experiences in the industry and what it was like being a part of both iconic films and TV series.
“The West Wing was an audition where I thought I nailed it,” says Lowe when remembering trying to get the role of Sam Seaborn in the acclaimed TV drama. Lowe claims that while acting in hard-hitting drama roles is all and good, comedy roles are currently more fulfilling for him.
“It is harder to make people laugh than make them cry,” says Lowe. “There’s value in giving people a smile or a laugh, especially after seeing the wear and tear of the world.”
Lowe even referenced his favorite moments as an actor and the joy that it has given him, especially in being able to host Saturday Night Live four separate times, being able to meet most of his idols, and the love for both his past projects and current project “The Grinder.”
“I’ve been lucky enough to meet all of my idols,” says Lowe. “I adored by time on Parks and Rec… and I am appreciative of our Grinder audience.”
While it is quite clear that Lowe has loved his life as an actor, he made sure to communicate his love for being a father and a husband to the audience.
Lowe met his wife Sheryl on a blind date. He says they immediately connected.
“She was funny and beautiful and smart and has a great zest for life,” says Lowe. The only problem? When they were set up, they were both seeing other people at the time.
Fortunately, while on the set of “Bad Influence,” Lowe was introduced to his makeup artist, and low and behold, it was Sheryl. Now married for 26 years, Lowe now has two boys in college and shares his love for being a parent with the audience.
“It is the greatest gift certainly of my life,” says Lowe of being a parent. “It is my greatest accomplishment, my most fulfilling job.”
“I am a much better actor now than I used to be,” says Lowe when asked about how much he has learned as an actor over the years. “Being a husband and being a father has made me a much better actor.”
Not only is his an actor, director, writer, father, and husband, but Lowe is an advocate for breast cancer, which took his great grandmother, grandmother, and mother. In addition to being an activist, Lowe has written two books, “Stories I Only Tell My Friends: An autobiography,” which was a New York Times best-seller, and “Love Life.”
Lowe ended the night by telling the audience what, in his opinion, the most impactful thing he has done and that one can do is.
“There are a thousand different ways we can impact the world,” Lowe says. “But it is how we treat one another that makes the most impact.”
Follow Rob Lowe on Twitter at @RobLowe, and for more information on the SMU Tate Lecture Series, visit https://www.smu.edu/TateSeries/LectureSchedule.