Rob Lowe recounts colorful career

ATLANTA -- It's fair to say that actor Rob Lowe has led an interesting life. And it's a life that could fill multiple books.

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Rodney Ho
, Cox Newspapers

ATLANTA -- It's fair to say that actor Rob Lowe has led an interesting life. And it's a life that could fill multiple books.

So far, he's written two: the 2011 "Stories I Only Tell My Friends" and 2014's "Love Life." In an interview, Lowe said he had more stories to tell and could have gone for a trilogy.

But instead of a book, the former "West Wing" and "Parks & Recreation" star decided to turn his stories into a one-man stage play that comes to Atlanta Symphony Hall April 27.

"It's inspired by both of the books," said Lowe, 54. "It will feel similar to that experience but it's not all the same stories. They are for the most part new stories or expanded versions. It's my third book live on stage instead of a book on tape. I have a couple of surprises people seem to like. There are some clips. The big takeaway after I did the first show was how many laughs there were."

He is not known as a song-and-dance man, as anyone who remembers the campy, painfully long 1989 "Snow White" Oscar performance would attest. (Check it out on YouTube.) But will his stage show include a little crooning, a little "Prince Charming"-esque soft shoe? He would only say, with a tease: "You never know."

Though he has largely done movies and TV, stage work doesn't scare him. He has done Broadway and received rave reviews performing "A Few Good Men" in London in 2005. "I love being in front of the audience and the tension of being 100 percent responsible for the experience."

Plus, this was a bucket-list challenge in a sense for Lowe: "I've seen a number of one-man shows in my life. When they work, they are really noteworthy. I was always jealous of people who could do that. It's been a really fun and surprisingly fulfilling adventure."

Lowe includes an extended Q-and-A at the end. "I don't think I've been asked the same question more than once so far," he said. "People will ask everything from deep fan-boy fan-girl questions on any particular project to my experience raising kids."

He recently noted on social media the 35th anniversary of Francis Ford Coppola's film take of the classic novel "The Outsiders," which featured a cavalcade of fellow future stars such as Tom Cruise and Ralph Macchio. Lowe's breakthrough role as Sodapop Curtis was greatly reduced in the final cut but the extended version, which better embraces Coppola's vision and features plenty more Lowe, is now readily available.

"That was the movie we all thought we were making," he said. "I remember being at that first screening (of the shortened theatrical version) and thinking, 'Oh my God! It was as if 'Gone with the Wind' ended during the Civil War!" (Coppola himself said the film was his version of "Gone With the Wind" for teenagers" and the classic Margaret Mitchell novel is featured in his movie.)

And no worries from Lowe about being the leader of what was termed derisively in the 1980s as the "Brat Pack," which included him, Molly Ringwald, childhood buddy Emilio Estevez, Demi Moore and Andrew McCarthy, to name a few. Though he hated the term at the time, he has long accepted it as a badge of honor.

"I look back and totally get it," said Lowe, who made his 1980s mark in films such as "About Last Night" and "St. Elmo's Fire." "It was a completely watershed movement not just for me but so many other actors who have had noteworthy careers. It's like saying Sid Vicious was a punk rocker. That's what era was about! I look back at the 'Brat Pack' as a term for the canon of movies that represent a whole segment of society."

Lowe has been a staple on TV the past couple of decades, from his dramatic Emmy-nominated role on "The West Wing" to his dandy comedic skills on "Parks & Recreation" and the short-lived but still beloved Fox comedy "The Grinder." He is currently starring on CBS's "Code Black" as an military physician.

Plus, he even entered the unscripted world with his A&E conspiracy theory series with his two sons called "The Lowe Files," which aired for a single season last year.

"People talk about it being a passion project," he said. "It was something 100 percent born out of our collective imaginations and was 100 percent authentic. It was the ultimate family scrapbook for me. We had such goofy, silly fun."

Plus, he hasn't forgotten films. He decided to go funny in the sequel to the juvenile silliness that is "Super Troopers." "I play a very dim-witted Canadian mayor who used to play in the NHL," he said. And he's starring, executive producing and directing in a Lifetime remake of the 1956 Oscar-nominated pyschological horror-thriller "The Bad Seed."

And since he'll be in Atlanta next week, he said he will have no choice but reference what happened during the 1988 Atlanta Democratic convention when he cavorted with a couple of young ladies in a hotel room. A video camera came into play. The ladies took the tape with them and it leaked out, decades before Kim Kardashian became famous.

One of the women was only 16, though he said at the time that he had no idea because they had met at a nightclub. The woman's mother sued. Lowe ended up serving community service and was never charged with a crime.

"I'm thinking of opening the show with a line like, 'You know, I've been in Atlanta. They tell me I had a good time but I don't really remember much of it. Maybe someone can share with me!' "

Rodney Ho writes for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Email: rho(at)ajc.com.

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