As The Lowe Files Preps for Premiere, Sobriety Looks Great on Rob Lowe


By staff writer

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A gift. Rob Lowe calls alcoholism a gift. That’s certainly an attention-grabbing proposition, but the seasoned actor and star of the upcoming reality series The Lowe Files doesn’t back down from the idea. As he accepted an award for 25 years of sobriety in 2015, he told the audience “Being in recovery has given me everything of value that I have in my life…I’m under no illusions where I would be without the gift of alcoholism and the chance to recover from it.”

Last month, Lowe tweeted out his 27th “sober-versary,” insisting that “There is hope for ALL!” A tour through the star’s checkered past indicates that he’s right about that. Lowe ran in The Brat Pack, a group of young actors that essentially owned the box office through their teen-friendly roles. He emerged in The Outsiders, honed his craft in the under-appreciated St. Elmo’s Fire, and peaked alongside Demi Moore in About Last Night, which enjoyed both financial success and wide critical acclaim. That was 1986.

Eighteen short months later, it all came crashing down as Lowe was embroiled in a scandal involving an underaged girl. Million-dollar contracts: gone. Adoring fans: gone. Hearththrob status: gone. In its place, Lowe had community service, minimal job prospects, and a reputation for irresponsibility.

The gracious manner in which Lowe looks back on that time now is a marvel; it’s difficult to imagine another star saying (as Lowe told The Daily Mail in 2011) that their sex scandal was “the greatest thing that happened to me.” There’s a logic to it, though: the fallout from the scandal led Lowe to ever-deeper addiction, and that trip to rock bottom led him to aggressively pursue sobriety.

Twenty-seven years later, Lowe is sitting pretty. He clawed back into the spotlight with small comedic roles (Wayne’s World, Tommy Boy) and made-for-TV movies (The Stand). A memorable cameo in the first Austin Powers led to credited roles in the second and third installments. Then came The West Wing, in which Lowe’s portrayal of the idealistic Sam Seaborn earned six award nominations and two wins (both SAGs).

Since then, Lowe hasn’t hurt for work, and he’s enjoyed a large amount of autonomy. Another generation of fans discovered him as the lovably earnest Chris Traeger on Parks and Recreation, in which he routinely stole scenes by being the most awkwardly honest human being alive.

These days, he’s teaching his kids the business. When The Lowe Files debuts on A&E, he’ll be traveling the country with his two sons, trying to solve mysteries from alien bases to witch doctors. What does he have to say, now that he’s come full circuit from unemployable actor to starring in a series that bears his name?

As Lowe told the New York Post, he has “a marriage that I love, two amazing children, and a career that is more diverse than ever before.” As his character Chris Traeger would say, he is “literally on top of the world.” And for a guy who started his career as a kid named “Sodapop,” that’s not a bad place to be.

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