Return to Transcripts main page
PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT
Interview with Rob Lowe
Aired May 8, 2011 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PIERS MORGAN, HOST: Rob Lowe is a lot more than just another pretty face. The life he's lived would make a great movie, if he weren't already a movie star.
Teen idol to Brat packer -- his life, his loves, his brilliant career, movies and TV, and the scandal that almost ended it all.
Tonight, Rob Lowe tells a lot about his sober life, his childhood friend Charlie Sheen, and the secrets to his success.
The question I really want an answer to: how the hell does Rob Lowe who's my age still looked so good after all these years?
Rob Lowe for the hour. This is PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT.
MORGAN: Rob Lowe is a superstar, he's a heart throb, and now he's written a book, "Stories I Only Tell My Friends."
In many ways, Mr. Lowe, having looked at this cover of "Vanity Fair," you are sickening.
MORGAN: Let's be honest.
ROB LOWE, ACTOR: I'll take it.
MORGAN: No man should look like this.
LOWE: I -- I know that underneath it --
MORGAN: How will you --
LOWE: Underneath it there's a compliment somewhere.
MORGAN: How old are you?
MORGAN: You're -- you're a year old than me, and you look like this?
LOWE: Under your suit, I know that you look like that.
MORGAN: I don't. That's the point. LOWE: You do, too.
MORGAN: Do you look that under your suit?
MORGAN: Now here's an interesting thing. I think you've -- imagine being Rob Lowe. You've planned this book. You've written a -- a terrific book. I love reading it.
LOWE: Thank you.
MORGAN: And I -- it reminded me of my -- I sort of grown up with you. I'm 46. So, this is my life lived vicariously through yours.
And I think you -- I imagine, you planned this whole thing. You planned a huge book tour. Everything is absolutely settled and done. And the only thing that can throw it off course --
LOWE: Would be just an international event that people would be interested in.
MORGAN: Like the death of Osama bin Laden.
MORGAN: What did you think when you heard?
LOWE: Well, I literally had a week out. I had a big conversation with the editors and the press people for this huge roll out, and it was that. The numbers looked good. The stores are in line. You're this, that, and the other. And, you know, the only thing would be some crazy catastrophe.
But I think it's going to be great. So -- yes.
MORGAN: I mean, I would -- I would imagine -- and I'm a huge "West Wing" fan. Let's get --
MORGAN: -- this out of the way. I've watched the - the seventh season box set three times.
LOWE: You need to get a life.
MORGAN: Mr. Seaborne is part of my life.
LOWE: OK. Good. Good.
MORGAN: But I was just curious. When I thought -- I knew I was interviewing you, and I thought, wow. For you, it must be odd, because this kind of new pictures of the Situation Room of President Obama and all his people. This could have come straight out of one of your scripts. In fact, it was very similar to one of your scripts.
LOWE: It's -- I'm just struck that, clearly, now, that we know the time line. That President Obama would have been at the White House Correspondent's dinner being charming and funny and gracious in front of all of the world's press, and all of the celebrities that gather there. And then going backstage, and -- and then pulling the trigger on this -- on this operation.
And it is exactly what one of our "West Wing" season finales was. Where Bartlett was at an opera --
LOWE: -- I think. And in his black tie. And then huddling in the corner, and doing an international hit on a bad guy, as well. Life imitates art.
MORGAN: You had this surreal thing where you were on one of the flights that they were using as a dry run --
MORGAN: The 9/11 killers. What was your personal reaction when you heard bin Laden had been killed? What was going through your mind having had that odd connection?
LOWE: Well, I mean, my first response was that these families will maybe have some sort of closure to the extent that anyone can really have closure with the kind of things that families have gone through. And the other part of it was I was glad this chapter was over. I was glad personally that I was in New York to be able to share in this city's spirit, which this city's spirit is unbelievable, as you know.
MORGAN: So, you were having dinner. You get a text that says, "Bin Laden is dead."
MORGAN: And what's the first thing you did?
LOWE: Well, I went down to Times Square because I got a -- I just had a sense that people would be gathering and sharing this moment in history. And when I got there, a fire truck was just pulling up. And people broke out in spontaneous applause at the firemen. Not so much of the Bin Laden's death; more a celebration of our heroes here.
And I shook the fireman's hand, and he said, "Oh, it's good to see you. Get up on the rig with the boys." And so, I went up and shook their hand as well.
And it was just -- it was a complicated evening, because in one hand, we're -- it' the end of an era. It's an amazing moment for our government, our military. And people who are bravely serving our country. And then it's a chapter that we are happy to get out of as well. MORGAN: I mean, the other thing is that you kind of wake up the next day. And I felt this from the city. That it went from this riotous celebration at the White House, and then at Ground Zero, and Times Square and so on.
And then the next day, it seemed a lot more sober, as reality set in and people realized, well, this symbolic monster that sort of orchestrated this thing has gone. But actually, his organization remains. Yes, the threat may be higher now against America and its people than it was before he died.
LOWE: Yes, and it's unfortunate, because what struck me about being in Times Square, and then later Ground Zero that night as well, was that there were no religions. There were no political persuasions. There were people of all ages, and everybody was united.
And in -- and that's, hopefully, now we can do that with -- not just within our country, but within the whole world.
MORGAN: When you knew that you had been on a plane that had been used as -- as a dry run, how does it make you feel?
LOWE: Well, I got on that flight. It was packed. There's a small cabin. There was nothing that stood out. This was before the days we even cared about those things.
I took a long nap. I'd shot all night, and forgot about it in its entirety -- 9-11 happened. About a year later, I think, I go to the mailbox. I get an envelope from the attorneys general for the state of Maryland. And in it, they're notifying me that I have showed up on a list of the public defender of Zacharias Moussaoui's people to be deposed. I think it's an April Fool's joke.
MORGAN: And what is it?
LOWE: I think it's an April Fool's joke. I call my attorney, Larry Stein. Larry Stein calls, he says, "I'll get right back to you." Five minutes later. And I can tell by the way he says hello, when he picks up the phone it's not good news. And he says, "You were on a dry run. They were all on the plane with you. They have the flight manifest. And this guy -- this lunatic wants to talk to you."
MORGAN: I mean, an extraordinary thing to be told.
LOWE: And the -- you know, I never -- I never talked about it, because it's too icky, right? And so, when I wrote about it in the book, it was -- it actually made me -- it made me more scared to actually write about and revisit it than when it actually was fresh and new.
MORGAN: Did you have any memory of these guys being on the plane?
LOWE: No. No. And that's the thing, is everybody in the plane looked exactly as you and I would look. There was -- there was nothing descriptive at all.
MORGAN: You've played lots of politicians -- political figures on screen. Have you ever been tempted to have a proper run yourself?
LOWE: Well, you know, I -- you know, I loved politics more as a younger man. I -- it's been a big part of my life.
MORGAN: Have you gone through the process of liberal when you're a kid, and then --
MORGAN: -- you have to be a conservative when you get older, right?
LOWE: Well, it's funny. My son who is a huge political junky -- my oldest son, Matthew. And he'll be on Capitol Hill this year as an intern, had me take this very complicated 86-question diagnostic where you stand politically. And when my results came out, I was dead center -- dead center in the bulls-eye. You couldn't have measured it any better.
And all my political operator -- I thought that was great news. And my political friends said, "Oh, I'm so sorry to hear that." I said, "What? I'm -- I'm a true centrist." My beliefs put me in the middle. That --
MORGAN: There's no bulls-eye, right?
LOWE: He says, "You know what happens to people that drive in the middle of the road? They get run over."
LOWE: So, which is really depressing. So, I -- you know, I don't know about politics but I -- look I'd love to serve my country. I would love it.
MORGAN: That sounds like a yes.
LOWE: I mean, I -- not to politics necessarily.
MORGAN: In what way?
LOWE: I don't know. I mean, and that --
MORGAN: When you see someone like Arnold Schwarzenegger, he's a friend of yours, I know. And, you know, you pay a big tribute to him in the back of the book.
MORGAN: "A friend, and a leader," and so on.
LOWE: Yes. Somebody -- by the way, somebody who could have easily sipped a julep by his pool for the rest of his life --
MORGAN: Yes. Yes.
LOWE: -- and chose to stand in the fire and try to do good work.
MORGAN: And someone who almost, uniquely, reached the top of his game in three completely different professions.
LOWE: And that's unbelievable.
MORGAN: Body building, movies, politics.
LOWE: He's unbelievable.
MORGAN: He's an extraordinary man.
LOWE: He's extraordinary.
MORGAN: So when you see him do it and you see that path from acting -- Ronald Reagan.
MORGAN: Yes, I look at you. You're late 40s. You've been pretty involved and active a long time.
MORGAN: You starred on one of the most famous dramas ever --
MORGAN: -- about the White House and politics and so on. But it's always been in your -- in your DNA.
MORGAN: I can't believe a little part of you doesn't think the opportunity carved itself out.
LOWE: I mean, look. I -- first of all, I love what I'm doing now. I love it. I mean, the book is a new road for me.
And to be 30 years into my career to have something that's new, and challenging, and I'm learning things, is great. And that's always what I'm looking for, is what's the next thing. And, you know, at some point, I'm going to want to do something else with my life. I don't know what it -- what it would be. I mean, I can't imagine any specific path.
MORGAN: I mean, the advantage of taking a political route is that you've got all the skeletons out there.
LOWE: That's the other thing. Well, look it -- I --
MORGAN: You could have done a (INAUDIBLE).
LOWE: And here you go, Piers. You and I could cut the attack ad on me in two seconds.
MORGAN: Yes, exactly.
LOWE: It would be eviscerating.
LOWE: So, I just don't --
MORGAN: But this is old news.
LOWE: Well --
MORGAN: So, it wouldn't actually be damaging, would it?
LOWE: Well, that's true.
MORGAN: Well, this is -- this could almost be a --
LOWE: You're getting me sold.
LOWE: By the time -- I may announce by the end of this.
MORGAN: If Donald Trump can do it.
LOWE: That's right.
MORGAN: Does -- and what of that prospect?
LOWE: I love -- I helped Trump run. I think he's great.
MORGAN: Because he's energized it all.
LOWE: Totally. And I want to see that first debate where Donald Trump, with nothing to lose, and everything to gain, and who will say anything, just calls -- excuse me, B.S. on the amount of B.S. that are always in debates. I think he'll be the greatest Greek chorus ever.
MORGAN: Absolutely. I think it would be fun if nothing else. And I think it would in a funny way, it's a bit like this birther dispute that went on. You know, what --
LOWE: I never got that. I never understood any of that.
MORGAN: Well, it was quite clearly -- it was getting -- it was getting him support from the hard core Republican voters out there.
LOWE: Oh, yes.
MORGAN: I could see that in the polls, he gets one of the zingers (ph). But, also, he was able to stand back at the end and say, "Well, I forced out the truth," you know? LOWE: "Declare a victory, and get off the field." That's what they say.
MORGAN: When I had Matt Damon on, it was quite interesting. He was quite critical of President Obama.
LOWE: I saw that. Yes, he was.
MORGAN: And President Obama got his own back at the White House Correspondent's dinner. And actually quoted as saying, "Hey, Matt. I saw 'Adjustment Bureau,' right back at you."
MORGAN: Which is what I call a zinger I believe in the trade.
LOWE: Oh, yes. You know what the lesson is? Don't take on the sitting president of the United States.
MORGAN: When you saw Matt say that, did you share a slight disappointment for President Obama or no?
LOWE: I think it -- I think it's really hard. And I went through it a little bit with Arnold. I think it's really hard once you get into the office. There are so many barriers that are unforeseen. There's so much infrastructure that -- by the way, they stay when you go. I mean, the president of the United States can't even fire his chef. I'm not kidding.
MORGAN: I know. That's true.
LOWE: So, it's tougher than people think. It, sort of, borders on a thankless job.
MORGAN: Well, when we come back from a short break, I want to talk to you about another tough, thankless job -- and that is waking up every day looking in the mirror and seeing pretty boy staring at you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LOWE: Rob Lowe, my notes say "Excellent reading, very attractive, very winning, very preppy; 18 years old, very good looking."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE; Pretty is even a better word than handsome for Rob. And he grew in the character, and through the rehearsal process that Francis put everybody through.
LOWE: We can almost witch blades, too. Don't you play, boy?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE).
LOWE: Oh, take it easy. I got plenty of money here. (END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: That was the audition of your break out role in "The Outsiders." And the key word there was "pretty." And reading the book, it's -- it made me laugh where you're sort of wrestling over this terrible torment of being too pretty for the screen. You know, too pretty for life.
I mean, what a problem I'd love to have, Mr. Lowe?
LOWE: Listen, nobody is going to throw any charity events for me on this subject. I'm very, very well aware of that.
MORGAN: But you're quite candid about it. I mean, is it -- is it a double-edged sword being impossibly good looking?
LOWE: See, by answering that question I implicitly agree with you.
LOWE: You're very -- you're smooth. They warned me about you. I look at the -- I look back at that footage and I think two things. One is, it looks like one of my kids, because I was 17.
LOWE: My son is 17.
LOWE: So, that freaks me out.
And the other thing was I know why there were people in -- that didn't really want to take me seriously, because I look like someone not to be taken seriously.
MORGAN: So, in the same way that a very beautiful woman is fantastic if you want to attract every man in the world. But, actually, to be taken seriously --
MORGAN: -- to be considered to have an intellect --
MORGAN: -- can often be impossible. People just don't see you that way. They don't want to see you that way. I mean, you're just eye candy.
LOWE: You know, one of -- one of my favorite sort of truisms is never compare your insides to someone else's outsides. And that's also true in the converse. And one of the things that's nice about the book is that, for better or for worse, it really is an honest representation of really what I'm about. And what I'm about isn't what you would necessarily think to look at me; never has been.
MORGAN: What are you about?
LOWE: Well, part of me is -- I'm a lot nerdier. It's true --
MORGAN: In what way?
LOWE: -- than you think.
My interests are, you know, I mean, I'm a political junky. I'm a policy nut. I'm not -- I don't like -- I'm not a trendy like hot spot follower guy. You know, I'm a little -- I'm a little old school. And, you know, I think that people who get to know me go, "Oh, really? I didn't know that."
MORGAN: When you see the cast of "Outsiders" - I mean, there's lots of pretty boys in that cast. You know, there's Patrick Swayze, there's Tom Cruise, and so it goes on. When you look at all of you, it's a wonderful picture in "Vanity Fair," of the whole line up.
MORGAN: What do you think?
LOWE: I think I'm amazed that that launched so many people.
MORGAN: It was incredible, wasn't it? I mean, no movie could have ever launched quite as many huge stars as that?
LOWE: Well, the casting -- the man who cast that movie, whose voice was on the clip we just heard is a man named Fred Ruse, (ph) who cast "Godfather I," "Godfather II," and "Star Wars," and "American Graffiti," and "The Outsiders."
LOWE: So, he could pick people who went on to be icons.
MORGAN: Do you -- do you stay in touch with any of that cast?
LOWE: I do.
MORGAN: Friends with them?
LOWE: You know, it's more like the people that you go to college with, and who were in your dorm. You know?
MORGAN: Are there any you would just ring up for a chat?
LOWE: Yes. If it comes up, for sure. I mean, I called Emilio recently. I see Demi from time to time. Or -- I mean, she wasn't in "Outsiders," obviously. But she's in that -- the group. But, you know, we all lead our own lives, you know? We are scattered to the four winds. But when we get together, or -- because when I see Tom Cruise, we pick up right back where we left and we start telling stories, and people go, get bored and walk away.
LOWE: "Remember the time," "Remember the time?"
MORGAN: I mean, you said -- I'm going to read you this, about acting -- "On some level, you have to be crazy to be an actor. You must have a masochistic streak to deal with the rejection and failure, and the unrelenting scrutiny and success."
It was a great quote -- a great way of putting it.
LOWE: It's true. You have -- I mean --
MORGAN: It's quite a barbaric business, isn't it?
LOWE: Really to get a part of this, you have to get a little damaged. I have never met anybody who is completely, utterly healthy who was drawn to show business. There's always some sort of need or dynamic -- they may not even be aware of it -- that draws them into this life.
MORGAN: I mean, I'm amazed, the number of people who I've interviewed on this show, who are hugely successful performers, who at some stage tell me, at least one if not both of their parents, never told them they loved them.
MORGAN: And you can almost chart the parallel. That it's -- that performing gives them a platform where they get loved.
LOWE: What's funny, I was really blessed. My parents did divorce, but my dad has always been present for me and loving me and my mom as well when she was alive.
But it's -- it is interesting. I've never -- I honestly have never drawn this -- this connection until this moment that the moment I decided to become an actor was around the moment that my parents split up.
MORGAN: It's fascinating, isn't it?
LOWE: Yes -- no. It is. I had never really thought of that.
MORGAN: Now you think of it, you think it makes sense? That that's why so many people that go through that kind of thing?
LOWE: I -- like I said, I really believe that it's so fulfilling to connect with an audience on stage, on -- on screen; however you're doing it. It's such a high. And it's a way of communicating, particularly, if you're in a world where you're having a hard time communicating, or if people aren't communicating with you.
And then, the other end of it is you really, really have to work to grow if you find success in this business, because people want to keep you sort of fat and happy, and immature, and not connected, and not paying attention.
So, I have a theory that you stop growing emotionally at the very age you become famous. That's my theory.
MORGAN: When we come back, I want to talk to you about your devastating appeal to the ladies.
MORGAN: Now, in this book, one of many horrible things I had to endure was -- in an entertaining way -- was you're kind of wrestling with this problem of your appeal to women, which you never seem quite sure is a good thing.
LOWE: Wrestling? Was I wrestling with it?
MORGAN: There's a kind of apparent conflict in you. You're not quite sure if this is a good thing or not.
LOWE: Well, the conflict for me was that through my adolescence in my high school years, I was the drama nerd. This is before "Glee" people, OK? This -- it was not cool to like musical theater to put it mildly. So, I was the acting -- they used a gay slur to describe me. That's -- that was a big part of who I was.
And then all -- like that, I'm known. And my life is different in terms of females. I go from sitting on my quad, and having my box lunch at high school. And all the hot girls going, you know, "That's the acting geek," to the opposite. And I go, "Wait a minute. I'm still the same guy. What's happened?"
That was something that I wrestled with. Did I wrestle with the fact that the girls like me? Heck no!
MORGAN: No. You could probably like the proverbial kid in the candy store.
MORGAN: And the roll call of ex-girlfriends is breathtakingly impressive -- Jacqueline Bisset, Demi Moore, Nastassja Kinski, Princess Stephanie, Fawn Hall.
LOWE: I saw in the Iran -- see this is the nerd. I didn't like see some "Playboy" centerfold that I went, "I want to date her." I watched Iran Contra on CSPAN, and went, I like Oliver North's secretary.
MORGAN: You didn't actually do that? LOWE: I did.
MORGAN: That's what you actually did?
MORGAN: You saw her on CSPAN and thought, "I'm going to date her?"
MORGAN: And then what happened?
LOWE: I did a little research, and I came up with a phone number, and I called her at the Pentagon.
MORGAN: You didn't?
LOWE: I did.
LOWE: The rest is history.
MORGAN: I mean, you were clearly attracted to, you know, the kind of celebrification of romance. I mean, not only women who were the hottest dates to be had, you were on a bit of a mission, weren't you, to be like the stud of your generation?
LOWE: My motto into this day is: go big, or go home. I just use it in a different way today.
MORGAN: Was there a kind of unfathomable pressure building all the time when you had all these amazing girlfriends? That you've got to be on your game -- I mean, you've got to perform to the levels that these women expect from heartthrob Rob Lowe.
I've never had this problem, but I have it in reverse. The expectation levels are always so low. I could only please the women. In your case, I would imagine that the potential for chronic disappointment --
MORGAN: -- must have been there.
LOWE: I think I was probably the chronic disappointment. Anybody who is disappointed, it was probably me because I was -- I was so -- you know, one of the things I discovered later on when I really changed my life, and then I got sober was that I actually prefer the -- you know, all things considered to the extent that any man can, I prefer the company of really one person. And that was really shocking to me because my sort of self-image of myself was, you know, out on the town doing this thing. And then I realized the truth of it is, I'd rather stay at home. I mean, I really -- that's really who I am at my core. But I only discovered that, you know, much later in life.
MORGAN: For 20 years you've had an amazingly happy marriage and the kids and everything. You've been sober this length of time. It's complete transformation to the man you were before.
LOWE: Right. I mean, it's two separate lives. And I'm really glad I lived the life I did. I prefer a little bit of bad boy in my friends and peers. I do. I don't trust total complete Squaresville.
MORGAN: Do you think everybody has that devil in them basically?
LOWE: I do.
MORGAN: I sort of agree with you. When you meet someone who's really, really squeaky clean, you can imagine depravity is not far away. Right?
LOWE: You know what, I'm going to agree with you.
MORGAN: I've got to ask you, what to you is the more shameful, humiliating thing, the infamous sex tape or the snow white escapade. Which one would you least rather go through again?
LOWE: That's the definition of a Sophie's choice.
MORGAN: If I could say to you you've got to go through one of these again, which would you least rather go through again?
LOWE: Well, I would take the sex tape off the list, because it led me to get sober, which changed my life.
MORGAN: Yes. Arguably, one of the best things that happened to you.
LOWE: It was the best thing that ever happened to me.
MORGAN: Slapped you out of the hedonism and you went right. OK. My life can go one of two ways here.
LOWE: It's a good thing it happened then rather than now. Because now I would actually be more famous. I'd have more money. And I would be even a bigger star.
When it happened to me, it was exactly the opposite because it was a different time. But I was a little bit of a trail blazer, unwittingly and stupidly.
MORGAN: Do you understand why people are obsessed with celebrities doing that kind of thing, or being caught doing that kind of thing?
LOWE: It's a culture. MORGAN: Do you look at other people and enjoy their own scandals, downfalls and so on, in the way that others have enjoyed yours over the years?
LOWE: Once you go through your turn in the barrel, you have a unique perspective on it. And what I've learned is it's a good thing to be in the business long enough that you have your turn in the barrel. It's really easy to be, you know, a one hit wonder who never gets his turn. It's also real easy to be in the barrel and never come out of it.
But if you can ride the cycle, it's really extraordinary. People do it all the time, you know. Every six months, it's somebody else. It's their turn and they rehabilitate themselves. They change their lives.
MORGAN: When you see your old friend Charlie Sheen, who I had on the show --
LOWE: you were great with him.
MORGAN: I like Charlie.
LOWE: It was clear, yeah.
MORGAN: I think I slightly understand him better than some. I've known him for 20 years on and off. You've known him far better than I have. When you see someone like him resolutely refusing to play the traditional game, what do you think?
LOWE: There's a part of me that admires that, that admires resolutely living his life. I don't agree with the choices at all, any of them. And he knows that. I'm not telling tales out of school. We're friends. I adore him. And we agree to disagree on a lot of things.
But that -- you went right to the heart of the one element -- and there's only one in all of it -- that I can sort of hang my hat on, that he's doing it his way.
MORGAN: It's the life that he has decided he wants to lead.
MORGAN: And when I interviewed him, I found him -- he's a mercurial figure. He's very smart.
LOWE: Very smart.
MORGAN: Who else in Hollywood history, TV history has done this, has sort of apparently self-imploded right at the top of their own power. Right when he's the number one guy in the number one comedy on television.
LOWE: And he goes out on tours making seven million dollars, I think. Charlie is a money-making machine. And he always has been, ever since he was a kid. Before we were all making money, Charlie was making money before us. He has a lucky -- it's in his DNA. He can't help himself.
MORGAN: Do you worry about him?
LOWE: Oh yes, sure.
MORGAN: Do you fear that one day you're going to wake up and something awful will have happened?
LOWE: You know, I hope not. I mean -- but listen, something cold happen to any of us on any given day. But I'm wishing him well. He really is somebody I've cared about for so many, many, many years.
MORGAN: We're going to take a little break. When we come back, I want to talk to you about what you did that Charlie doesn't want to do, and that's go to rehab.
MORGAN: Back with my special guest Rob Lowe. Rob, you said about drinking that drinking was about quieting my conscious. Why did you need to do that?
LOWE: Well, I think I was probably living a life that was not as satisfying as I was pretending it to be.
MORGAN: It's a kind of a fantasy life that every man aspires to have. But when you actually get it, it's not quite what it's cracked up to be?
LOWE: Also, I think it's probably really satisfying for a while.
MORGAN: At its absolute peak of outrageous behavior, give me a snapshot of life as Rob Lowe as party boy. Make me jealous.
LOWE: Look, I don't think that I completely broke that much new ground. I think it's pretty much what any 22, 23, 24-year-old would do when given, like you said, the keys to the candy store. Right?
So it's being at the funnest place you could possibly think of, with, you know, the prettiest girl you could possibly find, and staying out as late as you possibly can, and, you know, imbibing in whatever you could possibly get.
And that was the program, Unless I was working. If I was working, I was really dialed in. But you can't shoot all the time.
MORGAN: Were you one of those guys that would just try everything? Would you try everything once?
LOWE: No, no.
MORGAN: Where did you draw the line?
LOWE: I didn't -- this is the '80s. I was a child of the '80s. If you can remember back an you still have the brain cells.
MORGAN: You were one of the ten great -- according to "People Magazine," one of the ten great iconic teen stars of all time, along with Michael Jackson, James Dean. An amazing list of people. Right in the middle of it is you.
LOWE: I saw it. It's unbelievable.
MORGAN: You saw that, right? You have this incredible thing thrust upon you. There you are late teens, early 20s, millions of dollars cascading your way. Every bit of a woman out there, every substance you want to snort, drink, whatever you want to do with it.
LOWE: You make it sound so good.
MORGAN: Was it that good?
LOWE: A lot of it was. A lot of it was. It was really fun. By the way, I tell people when I talk about sobriety -- I say if you're not having fun sober, go back and start drinking, really. I mean, if I --
MORGAN: Do you ever miss it?
LOWE: If I thought I could go out and do what I used to do and have fun, I would do it in two seconds.
MORGAN: What I would miss would be just having a nice glass of wine with a bowl of pasta.
LOWE: Why would anybody have a glass of wine.
MORGAN: Is that the key thing, that you could only drink to success? So why bother just having one?
LOWE: Why bother? Why bother? That's how you know. You're either one of us or you're not. It's like, if I have a glass of wine, inevitably it's two glasses, which leads to this -- it's like -- it just begins. And so for me, I have no desire to have a glass of wine.
MORGAN: You went into rehab after the whole sex tape thing. When you went in there, was it as hard as you had always feared it might be? Or was it cathartic?
LOWE: It was great. It was great. I loved it, because I was ready. Problem is people go into rehab and they're not ready. You want to get sober for your parents or you want to get sober for your job or you want to get sober for the cops or you want to get sober to protect your image or -- a lot of good reasons, by the way.
Unfortunately, the only one that works is you've got to get sober for you. So I was ready. So they told me, hey, Lowe, you've got to go stand in the corner on your head, I would have done it. I loved getting the tools to lead the kind of life that I wanted to lead.
I think rehab gets a bad name. It can be an amazing.
MORGAN: Charlie Sheen says he just doesn't believe rehab works.
LOWE: He's wrong. He's wrong.
MORGAN: You're testimony to this.
LOWE: And countless, countless others, I think. But you don't get to do it your way. You don't get to make up your own special rules. They have -- we have a name for people like that. Those are people who suffer from terminal uniqueness. You don't get to do it your way.
MORGAN: Talking of doing things your way, you actually needed the help of somebody else. And that was your wife Cheryl who came at the perfect time for you. When we come back after the break, I want to talk to you about her and how she changed your life.
MORGAN: Tell me about Cheryl, your wife, because she came along just when you need someone like her, didn't she?
LOWE: Well, when I met her -- I met her and she was my makeup artist on "Bad Influence," a movie that I did, a good movie. And she was my best friend. We weren't even really romantic. We just got each other, you know?
And I fell in love with her, and, of course, blew it immediately because I'm incapable of any relationship at that point in my life. And that was one of the things that made me want to get sober, because I knew if I couldn't make it work with Cheryl, who just gets me and understands me and has my back and is a true partner for me, that I was never going to be able to make it work with anybody. And I wanted a family. I wanted that life badly. I changed my life to get it.
MORGAN: You could have had any woman at the time you wanted. What was it about her? For someone who doesn't know her, what are her qualities that particularly got you?
LOWE: She saw me unlike any other woman that had been in my orbit for years. She didn't want anything from me. She wanted me to win. She wanted me to be the best that I could be.
It wasn't about her. It was about us. And she was and is so hot.
MORGAN: There's a moment in the book you talk about where she walks away from you briefly.
LOWE: Yeah, yeah.
MORGAN: What were you thinking when she did that?
LOWE: I was -- that I was the biggest loser ever, that I had blown this chance with somebody who truly loved me. And I didn't know if I would ever find anything like that again. And if I did, I knew I would screw it up. MORGAN: When you see contemporaries, many of them, who fall off the rails and go through wives and women and just never seem to find this kind of contentment, do you feel very, very lucky that you just managed to stumble across somebody that was perfect for you?
LOWE: I do. And when I got to writing the end of the book, I -- there's a thing of how's it going to end? How am I going to end this book of my life? And what I realized is it ends with Cheryl, a sort of ode to her and my kids.
And I didn't write the book to be about that, but you write a book about you and your real self reveals itself. And that ends up being a large part of it.
MORGAN: What did your sons make when they saw dad on --
MORGAN: They would have given me a lot of steak for that.
LOWE: My 17-year-old was like, dad, check out your man boobs.
MORGAN: He thinks those are man boobs? My God, he needs to get out more.
LOWE: They were having none of it. I get no relief from them, none.
MORGAN: When we come back, I want to talk to you about what I like about you most. When I watched "the West Wing," I loved the fact you walked away from this extraordinary role in a huge disagreement with producers about money, about status, about the whole damn thing. Great diva work, Mr. Lowe.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, Rob.
LOWE: What's going on?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You didn't hear? We're coming back on the air January 20th.
LOWE: You mean, we haven't been on TV?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah, we were off the air for a couple months, but now we're back.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You knew that, right?
LOWE: No, I did not (EXPLETIVE DELETED) know that. How long have I not been (EXPLETIVE DELETED) on television?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Rob, this is good news.
LOWE: What's good news? That this hasn't been on TV for five (EXPLETIVE DELETED) months. Great. Now I'm out of coffee.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: That was you playing a diva in "Funny or Die," And yet there is a certain element of truth in this, because to my total dismay, my greatest ever drama, "West Wing," half way through it, you just disappeared. And further investigation reveals it's because you're enraged by all sorts of things, money, status. You just couldn't handle it. What was the truth?
LOWE: The truth was -- and I think people who work for big corporations will get this. You know, studios aren't run by studios anymore. It's big corporations. I never could figure out what the disconnect was between what I was trying to do and what I was bringing to the show, and sort of like not really being valued in the way that I could really go out and win for the show and bring things to it.
And so when there was less for Sam to do, my character, and then when the other actors -- you know, they went in for renegotiation and got paid and they wouldn't let me do it -- I sort of felt like the gauntlet was thrown down. And for a long time, I sort of went with it.
Then I started to just feel bad about it. And I would hope that my kids, if they were in an amazing job or in a relationship that to the outside world looks fantastic -- and maybe it is, like the "West Wing" was -- but if they're not valued, on the inside you've got to have the courage to move on.
MORGAN: Do you ever regret it?
LOWE: No. I regret not being on the "West Wing." because I love that show. As much as you love it, I actually love it more.
LOWE: Absolutely. I would have played Sam till I was 70. I would have been like the Larry King of the "West Wing."
MORGAN: I'd have to replace you in that case.
LOWE: You might have.
MORGAN: Sam Seaborne is such a terrific role. But also the characters that were in the show, the people you worked with, the whole thing, it was magical television.
LOWE: It was unbelievable. And it ended up being a great experience. I have zero bitterness or score settling. I'm friends with everybody. Aaron Sorkin and I have worked together since. I look back on it as one of the high water marks.
Somebody asked me earlier today, you know, if I could pick whatever and put it in a time capsule to show my kids' kids' kids' kids, it would be seasons one and two of "The West Wing" and the book. MORGAN: I agree with you. If I was you, I think the same thing. If there was one moment in your life that you could relive again, outside of marriage and children, what would it be? The greatest moment of your life?
LOWE: Listen, I've been blessed. I have had so many of them.
MORGAN: Which era is when you've been at your happiest?
LOWE: 1999 till now. I had both my sons, my wife. I have "the West Wing."
MORGAN: What's the single most important thing you've learned about yourself? When you finish the become and put it down --
LOWE: How much I still love this.
MORGAN: The business?
LOWE: Yeah. Because there's a lot not to love. And I am, as you can tell a little bit -- I can be a jaded, cynical prick. You know, I have that part in me. But it hasn't killed my love for what we do.
MORGAN: Rob, I love the book. I loved it a lot more than I loved "Vanity Fair," which as a 46-year-old guy --
LOWE: Would you like the "Vanity Fair"" more if I had a muffin top.
MORGAN: I'd like it if you just genuinely looked rough, and I could look at you and say wow, I look better than Rob Lowe does.
LOWE: I'm going to eat a lot more pizza and the next one you're going to like a lot.
MORGAN: Thank you. It's been a pleasure.
LOWE: You bet. Thanks.
MORGAN: We've got a blockbuster lineup next week on PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT with Jesse James on ex-wife Sandra Bullock, the always outspoken and very entertaining Chelsea Handler, the parents of Madeline McCann (ph) on the disappearance of their daughter four years ago, and Chaz Burner's (ph) amazing story, becoming a man after being born a woman.
And Donnie and Marie Osmond together again after 30 years. They're all with me on PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT next week. Now here's my colleague Anderson Cooper with "AC 360."