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



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.

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.

"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.

Originally published