Hightailing it between Santa Barbara and Hollywood, Rob Lowe has a three-decade acting career in his rearview mirror as he turns the corner with a bold new comedy series and an expanding men’s product line. On the horizon: revisiting his Malibu roots.
In the first episode of The Grinder, the hit Fox comedy on which Rob Lowe is the executive producer and star, his character, Dean Sanderson, is an actor whose long-running series comes to an end. Sanderson wistfully says he’s “just driving on the highway of ‘What the hell is my life,’ looking for an offramp. I think I just got to pull the car over, you know? Just get out and see what life has to offer.” The fact that Lowe delivers these lines so convincingly is a testament to his talent, considering the only thing Lowe actually has in common with Sanderson is that they are both actors.
Lowe has, after all, very much discovered and enjoyed the things that life has to offer, from a successful 25-year marriage to makeup artist and jewelry designer Sheryl Lowe, to being the father to his two boys, John and Matthew (now young men in their 20s), to authoring two bestselling books, to launching a skin-care line—and not, mind you, as a licensing arrangement: He is the founder, creator and majority owner. Oh, and then there’s the more than 400 episodes on shows such as Parks and Recreation and The West Wing, as well as scores of on-screen credits including Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, Behind the Candelabra and, of course, his star-turning role in The Outsiders. Not to mention that he and his wife and their four dogs live in a 20-room Georgian-style house that’s been featured in Architectural Digest. Clearly, Lowe doesn’t need to pull over for any existential reasons.
He does spend a lot of time in the car, however. Lowe and his family have lived in Santa Barbara for 21 years, far from the madding crowd of Hollywood. He says that the couple wanted to raise their children “in the most fulfilling and well-rounded way, in an environment where there’s more to life than movies and TV.” Though Lowe confesses to feeling that he maybe should “be seen and on the scene more,” living away from the entertainment epicenter hasn’t hurt his career. Commuting four hours a day is a “small price to pay for being out of the Hollywood rat race,” he adds.
Plus, he’s been able to pursue other opportunities, like writing books—whether it’s the Hollywood thing to do, or not. When he told his team of advisers that he wanted to write Stories I Only Tell My Friends: An Autobiography (2011), he says they asked a lot of questions: “‘Is it going to be a tell-all? You can’t really do that. And if it isn’t, no one will buy it. And you’re not going to write it yourself, are you? You don’t even have the time: You’re shooting Brothers & Sisters and Californication and Parks and Recreation.’” Lowe found the time to write the bestseller and a second book, Love Life, in 2014. “You just step up and do it,” he explains.
He adopted a similar can-do attitude in creating his antiaging skin-care line for men, Profile. The line is geared toward the ultimate achievement: being comfortable in one’s own skin. In addition to the de-puffers and moisturizers he applies, his self-care regimen is serious business. He’s a stickler for getting eight hours of sleep every night, and eats only protein and vegetables—no carbs and not much sugar. And Lowe is the first to admit that he “works out like a lunatic.” He adds, “It’s not an aesthetic choice, though—that’s part of my job. If I’m not beating myself to a pulp in the gym or running, or surfing or hiking, I get to be really miserable.” And so, even when shooting 12 hours a day, he eats his lunch standing up and heads to the gym or goes for a run during breaks.
The newest addition to his Profile men’s grooming line is his fragrance, 18 Amber Wood, the first of two scents he is launching. Lowe describes the fragrance as “subtle, sexy, male,” noting that, even though it’s “timeless,” it refers specifically to the moment that he stepped out on the red carpet for The Outsiders at age 18.
“To be a 13-year-old in the mid-’70s in Point Dume, Malibu, was spectacular. It was the West Coast version of The Ice Storm meets Almost Famous meets Boogie Nights meets Stand by Me.”
But Lowe, now 52, has never been one to dwell in the past. His new show, The Grinder, takes a “meta look at television, celebrity and fame wrapped into what would normally be a traditional family comedy,” he says. “It doesn’t have a social agenda dressed up as a comedy. It’s built for laughs. That’s a very small lane right now, but a lane I love. I like my comedies to actually be funny.” (So do we.)
Lowe hints at an idea he has for another project to add to his long list of credits. “To be a 13-year-old in the mid-’70s in Point Dume, Malibu, was spectacular,” he says, referring to his own coming-of-age after moving to California from Dayton, Ohio, at age 13. “It was the West Coast version of The Ice Storm meets Almost Famous meets Boogie Nights meets Stand by Me. I’m obsessed with it.” That, we can’t wait to see.
Photography by NIGEL PARRY.
Written by MARTHA McCULLY
Styling by ANNIE PSALTIRAS