HFPA in Conversation: Rob Lowe- 80s Heartthrob, Actor, Director

by Kirpi Uimonen Ballesteros September 5, 2018
Actor and director Rob Lowe, Golden Globe winner

theo kingma/hfpa

“Bad seed” is an expression Rob Lowe remembers from his childhood.  It is also the title of an Oscar-nominated movie from 1956.  A few years ago, the Golden Globe-winning actor decided to do a remake of the classic horror thriller- this new take on The Bad Seed can now be seen on Lifetime – and, besides starring in it, Lowe also directs and executive produces it.

“It was a perfect type of movie to remake because everybody remembers it, but most people don’t really remember it that well.  I thought it’d be great to take that and reinvigorate it and sort of make it for today’s sensibility, because it’s a very dated movie”, Lowe tells HFPA journalist Michele Manelis in West Hollywood.

Previously, a little over 20 years ago, he directed a short movie called Desert’s Edge.  He describes this new challenge as a joyful experience. “It was everything I had hoped it would be.  I think the number one job of a director is to have a point of view that’s interesting.  And then to execute.   When I read the script, I had a very specific idea of how I wanted this movie to look.  I don’t always have that when I read a script.  I did with this one so it made sense for me to direct it.”

But he wasn’t a fan of directing himself. “Inevitably, you’re standing outside of your own performance judging your performance, which is the job of the director.  And in spite of having video playback where you can go back and look at it after you’ve done the scene, you can’t but help be in the scene and having one eye on the composition, other elements of the scene, how the other actor’s doing, how you’re doing, it’s just sort of the nature of the beast.  But, I got comfortable with it pretty quickly.”

Lowe began his acting career at age 15 in the sitcom A New Kind of Family. By the mid-1980s he became a teen idol with roles in films like The Outsiders, Oxford Blues, St. Elmo’s Fire and About Last Night … He looks back on those days with affection. “It’s just something that very few people experience, it’s got its ups and downs and it’s just a weird, weird, weird anomaly that you don’t come out of the same way you were before that happening, for sure.”

How does he feel being a heartthrob? “You can only be who you are and do the work you do and at the end of the day, hopefully, you get enough years that begins to speak for itself.  But, I look back at pictures of what I looked like then.  And I wouldn’t have taken myself, I wouldn’t have taken that kid seriously either.”

Later his career took a different turn, starring in the hit series The West Wing, Brothers and Sisters, Parks and Recreation and Code Black.

Have you ever wondered why Rob Lowe wanted to be an actor?  How has the business changed since he started?  What kind of memories he has from Wayne’s World?  How does he feel working with his sons, Matthew and John, on the reality show The Lowe Files?  Why didn’t he have a mentor?  Why turning 18 was a turning point in his career?  What sport did he learn in his 40s?  Why doesn’t he have regrets?  What kind of experience he had in Africa when he was filming his next project, Christmas in the Wild?  Why he looks up to Paul Newman? What is his take on a long marriage?  Are you curious?  Listen to the conversation here or, for immediate access to all of our podcasts, subscribe to HFPA in Conversation on iTunes.