Rob Lowe has been in the public eye — mostly for better and occasionally for worse — for nearly four decades. He’s had hits and misses on TV and in movies; a sex-tape scandal; more than his share of celebrity romances; and a long, successful marriage that has produced two sons.
He has shared his stories in a pair of autobiographies and now a one-man show, “Stories I Only Tell My Friends,” which he’ll perform Friday at the Eccles Theater in Salt Lake City.
ROB LOWE: STORIES I ONLY TELL MY FRIENDS — LIVE
When • Friday, Sept. 29, 8 p.m.
Where • Eccles Theater, 139 S. Main St., Salt Lake City
Tickets • $52.50-$200, available at the box office or arttix.artsaltlake.org
“I hope that people come in and have fun,” Lowe said in an interview with The Tribune. “Hopefully, they’ll learn some interesting nuggets about what it means to live the kind of life I’ve lived for 40 years, and go, ‘Wow. That’s incredible. I can’t even imagine that.‘
“And then also think, ‘Oh my gosh — we’re exactly alike.’”
Well, not all of us grew up with Charlie Sheen, Emilio Estevez and Sean Penn. Not all of us dated Winona Ryder, Marlee Matlin, Melissa Gilbert and Princess Stephanie of Monaco. Not all of us starred in everything from “The Outsiders” to “St. Elmo’s Fire,” “The West Wing” to “Parks and Recreation.”
But Lowe, 53, tells his stories of success with self-deprecating humor, and he tells his stories of failure with … well, self-deprecating humor.
“I learn something new every time I do it,” he said. “And I learned that the sort of everyday, non-Hollywood, non-headline story of just living a life, people really, really like. So there’s a lot of stuff about raising my sons. And there’s a big set-piece about how impossible my wife makes my life by watching Steve Harvey’s ‘Family Feud’ until 4 o’clock in the morning.”
Never fear, Lowe also talks about his nearly four-decade career in show business. The one-man show shares a title with the first of his two well-received autobiographies, “Stories I Only Tell My Friends.” The second is “Love Life.”
“There are certain stories in the books that, told live, take on a life of their own,” Lowe said. “So there’s at least one big sequence that’s in one of the books about what it’s like to bomb on the Academy Awards.”
That would be his 1989 song-and-dance number with Snow White — which did indeed bomb. And telling that story “gives me no end of pleasure to talk about because it’s just so ridiculous,” Lowe said.
He said performing his one-man show is “scary in a good way.”
“I still have to find ways to imbue myself with the butterflies. And this is definitely a way to do it,” he said with a laugh. “You’re out there alone. Everything else that an an actor does is so collaborative — television, movies, etc. This is just you, for better or worse.”
He said it’s “satisfying and unbelievably humbling” that he’s approached by fans from “across the spectrum.”
“I get people who talk to me like I’m Yoda,” he said with a laugh. “I get people who talk to me like they just discovered me. I never know what they’re going to reference. On any given day, it could be ‘The Outsiders,’ ‘The West Wing,’ ‘Behind the Candelabra,’ ‘St. Elmo’s Fire,’ ‘Parks and Rec,’ ‘Code Black.’ It could be ‘The Lowe Files.‘”
He’s currently starring in the CBS medical drama “Code Black,” which will return at midseason. “The Lowe Files” — a reality show in which he and his sons, 23-year-old Matthew Edward and 21-year-old John Owen, travel around the country exploring unsolved mysteries, completed its nine-episode first season Wednesday on A&E. (No word yet on whether there will be a second season.)
“The things that we will do to attempt to get our kids to spend actual time with us,” Lowe said. “That was really it. As they begin to really establish their adult lives and they continue to drift further and further into their own worlds with their own concerns, you grab whatever you can still get.”
While fans approach Lowe all the time about his various movies and TV shows, his sons remain singularly unimpressed.
“Let me put it to you this way,” he said. “We were talking about the Emmys, and ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ came up. And my son was going on about Elisabeth Moss. And I said, ‘You know, Elisabeth Moss was in “West Wing.” She was [President] Bartlet’s daughter. It was one of her first jobs.’
“And he said, ‘I wouldn’t know. I haven’t seen it.’ “
Retelling that story, Lowe chuckled heartily.
“The kind of pleasure with which they say it just makes me laugh every time,” he said.