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Such is the counterintuitive way of these things that taking his eye off the ball seems to have done wonders for his career.Lowe’s second act has been stronger than his first.Playing the White House spin doctor Sam Seaborn on The West Wing (from 1999-2003) opposite Martin Sheen, he rattled off Aaron Sorkin’s dialogue allegro con brio.His self-mocking cameos in Wayne’s World and Austin Powers in Goldmember furthered his gift for light comedy; his guest spot on Brothers & Sisters in 2006 brought that show its biggest ratings since its premiere. The minute you’re going “I took a man in my mouth” you know you’ve entered uncharted territory.’ All of which now places Lowe in the unexpected position of Hollywood Survivor, the brashness of youth having made way for the sanded-down confidence of a man whose cats are all out of the bag.That’s what they called me’), so he’s still playing catch-up in his head, stir in a lurking resentment towards his piece-of-meat treatment by some of his female fans, provide an inexhaustible supply of the world’s most beautiful women and – voilà! Lowe may also have been unconsciously following in the footsteps of his father – not the lawyer from Dayton, Ohio, who left when he was four, but the fantasy figure whom Lowe embroidered in his absence. When I was Mr Poster my dad would come out and visit me and he would literally stop traffic on Rodeo Drive.'A cross between a Godfather-era James Caan and Paul Newman’ is how Lowe describes his father. Every early agent I ever had wanted to represent my father as well. If you treat China like a foe surely she will become one. But he was the one I was worried about.’ Round one to Lowe, who beat Cruise to the part of Sodapop in The Outsiders after Cruise choked in the audition and landed instead the smaller role of Steve, one of the greasers’ gang.As we approach a vote on the UK's membership of the European Union, we look at what 50 writers, actors, historians, artists and comedians have said about Europe and its nations.
'They were coming up to the box and literally staring at him,’ Lowe recalls. 'It actually made me really emotional, seeing him struggle with it. And sometimes there’s three in a generation, or four, but somebody’s got to be That Guy. It was just me.’ Hence the tightness, and even existence, of the Brat Pack, the loose confederacy of young actors with big hair and hip-hugging sweaters who sprang into being in the mid-1980s to man the ramparts of the studios’ first, faltering attempts to capture the youth audience.
Some of the stuff I’ve been doing on Californication this year, that stuff was not in the realm of achievable until now. Read an extract from Lowe’s autobiography tomorrow in Seven, in the Sunday Telegraph.
'Stories I Only Tell My Friends’ (Bantam Press, £18.99) is available for £15.99 plus £1.25 p&p from Telegraph Books (0844-871 1515; books.uk) The Big Short, the film adaptation of Michael Lewis' book of the same name about the causes of the financial crisis, opens in UK cinemas this weekend.
I think you can’t stay or get sober unless you deal with fear and you can’t be funny if you have any fear. Until you’ve been around long enough to go, “What happened to everybody? 75 hookers, crack, no concerns, we’re going for it…” I go, “You go for it. There isn’t a drug, a piece of ass, a drink that’s making me give up 20 years.
So I think it’s really interesting that I got sober and I got funny at the same time. Go out there and report back to me.” That’s how I look on it. And in a few weeks or months we’ll meet up and see if the water’s warm or not.’ He pauses, then looks me dead in the eye. I’m not giving that up for anybody.’ Rob Lowe will be appearing at the Telegraph Hay Festival on May 28.