Rob Lowe never settles for second best in 'The Grinder'

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BY DONNA FREYDKIN

If professionally it was a wrap for Rob Lowe, he'd want to work on a presidential campaign -- be immersed in the knotty, often-nasty world of politics, much like the communications director he once played on The West Wing.

Once the roles dry up, what's next? It's an issue his character tackles on the FOX series The Grinder, premiering Tuesday. In the buzzy series, which has, as of this writing, a 96 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, Lowe plays the title character, an actor who portrays a savvy, suave lawyer on a series that gets cancelled. So what's he to do with all those years of faux expertise, but sans law degree? Join his actual lawyer brother (Fred Savage) at the family practice in Boise, Idaho.

"The want of an authentic life of meaning," says Lowe. "That's been a goal of mine for forever. He wants that and is what keeps him from being the caricature of that comedic archetype, which we've certainly seen before."

But not in primetime, largely due to a lack of understanding that the world knows how Hollywood works. "They never let you play famous actors on network TV," says Lowe. "There's been an edit that anything about showbiz or acting on network television won't work. People aren't interested and we won't do it. In fact, when I got the script, I thought, 'They're fine that he's a famous actor?'"

The past decade has been kind to Lowe, both in terms of his work, and the fact that he's remained eternally fresh-faced -- without having to drink unicorn sweat or go under the knife. He's especially proud of his cameo as a strung-out plastic surgeon in the 2013 HBO Liberace film Behind the Candelabra, which was the opposite as his breakout turns as blue-eyed bombshell setting teen hearts a-flutter in St. Elmo's Fire and The Outsiders.

"As a guy who started as a leading-man ingenue -- that I do a transformational part like that is great.

The Lowe boys take Hawaii! No fish is safe, no wave is too gnarly. It's on.

A photo posted by Rob Lowe (@robloweofficial) on

Lowe and his wife Sheryl live in Santa Barbara and are the parents of two grown sons. He's also launching a skincare line called Profile, which -- along with a love of healthy living -- he credits with his ageless appearance.

At the #Duke game with the birthday boy! Go Matthew. Go Blue Devils. #football

A photo posted by Rob Lowe (@robloweofficial) on

"I've been in recovery, I'm sober now for 25 years. You don't make it to 25 years without getting to the real stuff, which is this. The recovery part is hard enough but that's not the real thing. The real thing is, what is your life going to be about? We all get there at a certain point," says Lowe.

It's a question that plagues the Grinder, who's awed by small-town life. Lowe is also an executive producer on the series, but says he's the opposite of a workaholic perfectionist. "I'm capable of doing that, I like doing that -- but I'm inclined to do that when I'm not feeling safe. When I feel like I'm the smartest guy in the room. That happens. This is not one of those shows. Everybody on this is a killer with tremendous knowledge and taste," says Lowe.

The actor is genial and good-humored, especially around his fans. He won't freak out if you ask for a selfie. "People are so supportive of me. It hasn't always been that way, but it has certainly been that way for the past ten years," says Lowe.

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Rob Lowe never settles for second best in 'The Grinder'
SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 09: Actor Rob Lowe attends SiriusXM's Entertainment Weekly Radio Channel Broadcasts From Comic-Con 2015 at Hard Rock Hotel San Diego on July 9, 2015 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for SiriusXM)
Actor Rob Lowe, left, jokingly distracts a Memphis Grizzlies player at the free throw line during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Clippers, Monday, Feb. 23, 2015, in Los Angeles. The Grizzlies won 90-87. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 22: Actor Rob Lowe (L) and Sheryl Berkoff attend the 23rd Annual Elton John AIDS Foundation Academy Awards Viewing Party on February 22, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for EJAF)
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 20: Actor Rob Lowe and singer Johnny Mathis attend the Barlow Respiratory Hospital;s 4th Annual Bernie Brillstein Golf Classic Awards Dinner at the Wilshire Country Club on October 20, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 20: Actor Rob Lowe and talent agent Richard Weitz attend the Barlow Respiratory Hospital;s 4th Annual Bernie Brillstein Golf Classic Awards Dinner at the Wilshire Country Club on October 20, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)
BARCELONA, SPAIN - JUNE 19: Jason Segel, Cameron Diaz and Rob Lowe pose for a photocall for their latest film 'Sex Tape' at the Hotel Mandarin on June 19, 2014 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Robert Marquardt/Getty Images)
BARCELONA, SPAIN - JUNE 18: (L-R) Jason Segel, Cameron Diaz and Rob Lowe pose during a photocall for their latest film 'Sex Tape' on June 18, 2014 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Miquel Benitez/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, UNITED STATES - APRIL 9: American actor Rob Lowe promotes his new book 'Love Life' at Barnes & Noble bookseller at 5th Avenue, on April 9, 2014 in New York, United States. (Photo by Cem Ozdel/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
BARCELONA, SPAIN - JUNE 17: Rob Lowe (L) and his son John Owen Lowe (C) are seen on June 17, 2014 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Europa Press/Europa Press via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 09: Rob Lowe visits Fox News' 'The O'Reilly Factor' at Fox News Studios on April 9, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Rob Kim/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 08: Actor Rob Lowe is seen on April 8, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by DVT/Star Max/GC Images)
GOOD MORNING AMERICA - Rob Lowe is a guest on 'Good Morning America,' 4/8/14, airing on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Fred Lee/ABC via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 08: Actor Rob Lowe (C) with Sirius XM's The MOMS with Denise Albert and Melissa Musen Gerstein attend Rob Lowe's 'Love Life' book launch hosted by The Mom at Paramount Hotel on April 8, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Robin Marchant/Getty Images)
SANTA MONICA, CA - MARCH 16: (L-R) Mary Nilan, President of NBC Television Jennifer Nicholson Salke, Founder, President and CEO of The Get In Touch Foundation Mary Ann Wasil, actor Rob Lowe, author Angelique L'Amour, Dr. Nalini Chilkov and Dr. Kristi Funk attend the Get In Touch Foundation's 2014 Pretty In Pink Luncheon and Women of Strength Awards at the Casa del Mar Hotel on March 16, 2014 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for The Get In Touch Foundation)
THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO -- Episode 142 -- Pictured: (l-r) Actor Rob Lowe during an interview with host Jay Leno on January 5, 1993 -- (Photo by: Gary Null/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
SANTA MONICA, CA - MARCH 16: Actor Rob Lowe attends the Get In Touch Foundation's 2014 Pretty In Pink Luncheon and Women of Strength Awards at the Casa del Mar Hotel on March 16, 2014 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for The Get In Touch Foundation)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 12: Actors Rob Lowe and Josh Radnor attend HBO's Post 2014 Golden Globe Awards Party at Circa 55 Restaurant on January 12, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Mike Windle/Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - JANUARY 12: 71st ANNUAL GOLDEN GLOBE AWARDS -- Pictured: (l-r) Actor Michael Douglas, actor Rob Lowe and guest arrive to the 71st Annual Golden Globe Awards held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 12, 2014 -- (Photo by Christopher Polk/NBC/NBC via Getty Images)
PARKS AND RECREATION -- 'Ann & Chris' Episode 613 -- Pictured: (l-r) Rob Lowe as Chris Traeger, Rashida Jones as Ann Perkins -- (Photo by: Ben Cohen/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
PARKS AND RECREATION -- 'Ann & Chris' Episode 613 -- Pictured: (l-r) Nick Offerman as Ron Swanson, Rob Lowe as Chris Traeger -- (Photo by: Colleen Hayes/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
PARKS AND RECREATION -- 'Ann & Chris' Episode 613 -- Pictured: Rob Lowe as Chris Traeger -- (Photo by: Colleen Hayes/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - NOVEMBER 04: Actor Rob Lowe (L) and Sheryl Berkoff arrive at National Geographic Channel presents Los Angeles premiere of 'Killing Kennedy' at Saban Theatre on November 4, 2013 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Rodrigo Vaz/FilmMagic)
GOOD MORNING AMERICA - Rob Lowe visits GOOD MORNING AMERICA', 10/30/13, airing on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Ida Mae Astute/ABC via Getty Images) ROB LOWE
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 28: Rob Lowe and Sheryl Berkoff attend the National Geographic Channel's 'Killing Kennedy' World Premiere at The Newseum on October 28, 2013 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Kris Connor/Getty Images)
STUDIO CITY, CA - OCTOBER 16: Rob Lowe attends the 'Parks And Recreation' 100th episode celebration held at CBS Studios - Radford on October 16, 2013 in Studio City, California. (Photo by Michael Tran/FilmMagic)
STUDIO CITY, CA - OCTOBER 16: (L-R) Rashida Jones, Nick Offerman, Retta, Michael Schur, Adam Scott, Amy Poehler, Chris Pratt, Aziz Ansari, Jim O'Heir, Aubrey Plaza and Rob Lowe attend the 'Parks And Recreation' 100th episode celebration held at CBS Studios - Radford on October 16, 2013 in Studio City, California. (Photo by Michael Tran/FilmMagic)
STUDIO CITY, CA - OCTOBER 16: (L-R) Amy Poehler, Rob Lowe and Rashida Jones attend the 'Parks And Recreation' 100th episode celebration held at CBS Studios - Radford on October 16, 2013 in Studio City, California. (Photo by Michael Tran/FilmMagic)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - FEBRUARY 22: (EXCLUSIVE ACCESS, SPECIAL RATES APPLY) Rob Lowe and Eddie Murphy attend the 2015 Vanity Fair Oscar Party hosted by Graydon Carter at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on February 22, 2015 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/VF15/WireImage)
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