I used to get really nervous before interviewing celebrities. Blah blah blah, they’re just like us. But they aren’t really because if they were we’d all be famous (um I have a ROBUST social media following). Now I play things real fast and loose, which is how I ended up telling Rob Lowe I once watched Wayne’s World everyday for 6 months in a row just to see if I ever got sick of it. I did not. He’s coming to The Strathmore May 11 to expand upon his book Stories I Only Tell My Friends which is convenient because that Wayne’s World story is something I’ve told my friends, and now Rob Lowe knows it too. Guess we’re friends.
Rob Lowe: Hey Jenn!
Brightest Young Things: Hey Rob, how are you?
RL: I’m good. I was just in your neck of the woods. The cherry blossoms were spectacular.
BYT: I saw that! It’s been a little dicey lately because of all that pesky climate change. You’re going to be back in a week, which is exciting, and you’re going to be up the street-ish from where you guys filmed St. Elmo’s Fire, which is adorable. And that college [University of Maryland College Park] is where I threw up at my first college party because I’m from Maryland.
RL: You and I have basically the same memories of that time.
BYT: Ah, so not a lot. You wrote Stories I Only Tell My Friends in 2011. Why did you decide to go on tour for it now?
RL: I wrote the two books, the first one Stories I Only Tell My Friends and the second one Love Life, and I enjoyed doing them so much… people enjoyed reading them. They just did so well that the question was “When is the third book happening?” Instead of writing a third book I decided to write the show.
BYT: So these are completely new stories that are not in the book?
RL: For the most part. And if they are in the book then they are added to and are sort of different. If you’ve read both books, remembered both books, you would feel that the show is new and fresh and different.
BYT: This book ended right before Parks and Recreation so I’m sure folks are dying to hear as many Parks & Rec stories as humanly possible.
RL: One of the things that’s fun about the show is there is a lot I couldn’t put in the books because of time, hence we have this one-man show tour but also every show there is a big Q&A session where I throw it open to the audience.
BYT: That’s very scary.
RL: Yes, it is. That’s why I do it. I think being nimble on your feet is a very important skillset for actors to have and there are plenty who do that. I really value that and it’s a way for me to stay sharp. And in terms of the evening it is always, every single show, the most entertaining, unexpected, rowdy, interesting… sometimes really emotional part of the show.
BYT: Right, I think the title of the book invites people to ask you questions they might not normally ask someone else in a similar Q&A. The book is a little sneak peek into your life which makes people feel very familiar.
RL: Oh 100% and without being highfalutin about it, one of the things people liked about the book is it was described to me as sneakily emotional. I think the show has that element where it’s fun, it’s bawdy, it’s irreverent, it’s provocative but underneath it all there is some real human substance to it. Because as you said I’m alluding to we’re all friends and we can talk about things as friends. I’ve done shows where I’m talking about my struggles with alcoholism so anything goes.
BYT: You’ve been sober for 28 years?
RL: It’ll be 28 years May 10.
BYT: Congratulations! My mom has been sober for 13 years so I always appreciate a sober human.
RL: Awwww that’s great! Give her a big hug from me.
BYT: I will and she will blush and giggle when I do. [narrator: She did]. Are there things that you are just done talking about, you’ve talked about them too much?
RL: Hell no. You’ve seen my Comedy Central Roast. I’m a big fan of those roasts. They’re so good. They make me laugh. They’re so mean. When they asked me to do it I was like YES. Either you can take it or you can’t. People who can take it have always been my idols. People who can own their lives, who are comfortable in their own skin, as the kids would say today, give no fucks. I admire that and I always have. I aspired to be that person. Turns out after 27 years of sobriety and everything I’ve learned with a long marriage, raising two kids and having a long career… turns out I ended up being that person. Why not go out and own it?
BYT: I imagine being an actor prepared you for that roast. You’re constantly being told right to your face exactly what’s wrong with you all the time. Acting is being roasted literally all the time.
RL: That’s right! All the time.
BYT: I’m glad you mentioned your kids because I am so obsessed with The Lowe Files. At first I was afraid I was going to talk to you for 15 minutes about dead people. So far so good. How did this show happen?
RL: [Laughs] Part of the reason I love that show so much because it’s so, again as the kids would say, random. What happened was the head of A&E came to me and wanted to do something in the unscripted world. They pitched me a bunch of different ideas I didn’t really respond to and I said “You know what I would do? I would do a show with my boys where we go and hunt for Big Foot.” And the guy, I’ll never forget, we were in the Disney executive dining room and he legitimately did a spit take. The rest is history. My oldest son Matthew and I, that’s our guilty pleasure.
BYT: Do you guys believe in Big Foot? Or the supernatural?
RL: All that stuff we’re obsessed with… we want to believe.
BYT: You want the world to be this lovely magical place where things like this exist!
RL: That’s exactly right. Then I have John Owen, my youngest son, who thinks we’re insane people. He’s like, “Why don’t you watch that show Finding Big Foot? It’s been on for 11 years. If he existed they would have found him already.” That was the genesis of it. It ended up being the most fun and a father’s dream, being on the road with your boys, having fun. We’re a modern day Scooby Doo.
BYT: I also want to ask what kind of food is served at the Disney executive diner and you don’t have to tell me the entire menu but if one meal stands out...
RL: You should ask me at my one-man show! It’s a good Q&A question.
BYT: So I Tweeted something about you, that you favorited, and I don’t expect you to remember every Tweet you liked because that would be absurd. Speaking of Scooby Doo-ish. I lived in LA when I was in my early 20’s where I only had a television and a VCR. The only tape I had was Wayne’s World so I decided to watch it every day to see when I got sick of it and that went on for 6 months.
RL: [Laughs] I remember this Tweet because I thought “This person is insane.”
BYT: The tape broke otherwise I’m sure that weird experiment would have kept going. Wayne’s World is one of the best movies ever made and I’m really glad you were part of it.
RL: It’s a classic… that sort of sub genre of my career.
BYT: That was a great time for you!
RL: That was a great and it lives on. I just went to the premiere of Super Troopers 2. I like to keep the flame alive.
BYT: Was Wayne’s World the first time you dropped some comedy chops?
RL: I had hosted SNL I think the year previous which was without a doubt the first time. Then Lorne Michaels and Mike Myers asked me to be in Wayne’s World because of that which led to Tommy Boy and Austin Powers.
BYT: Now Rob, I know women tell you all the time about the first time they fell in love with you. I think mine is kind of a sweet story if you don’t mind hearing it. I was a little young for The Outsiders, I was 3 at the time. I missed that boat, but also it was difficult to see the attractive guy through the hot guy trees. The year was 1994. I was a big Stephen King fan and you were in the made-for-TV adaptation of The Stand. I almost feel bad telling you that I fell in love with you when you played a mute. I cut out all these photos of you from magazines so maybe your original idea of me is true… what the kids don’t know is this is what you had to do when you liked somebody. I put them all on a poster board. At this point maybe that was a little vision board, or a mute board if you will, because here we are and I’m telling you this story and I don’t regret it. I don’t know if you’re a Stephen King fan because you were also in Salem’s Lot.
RL: I love Stephen King. I love The Stand and Salem’s Lot and I love the irony that you fell in love with me in a role where I don’t speak and we’re now talking about a show where I stand alone on a stage and do nothing but talk for 90 minutes.