His Best Performances in Movies and TV

Despite facing a reoccurrence of career-threatening public scandals and personal conundrums, Rob Lowe‘s talents as an award-winning actor, director and producer have stood the test of time. His smooth transition from teen superstar-doom to predominately adult centered roles has been an accurate depiction of what it’s like to mature through real obstacles. Making his initial acting debut alongside Eileen Brennan and Telma Hopkins in ABC’s ’79 series A New Kind of Familythe single-season family sitcom was just the beginning for the actor, who was only 15 years old at the time.

Lowe later went on to act in numerous roles in the ’80s, becoming a teen superstar and member of The Brat Pack (nickname given to a group of young actors; Emilio Estevez, Anthony Michael Hall, Rob Lowe, Andrew McCarthy, Demi Moore, Judd Nelson, Molly Ringwald, and Ally Sheedy, who often appeared together in teen-oriented films during the 1980s). The projects he participated consisted of key roles in Brat Pack movies The Outsiders, Class, Oxford Blues, St. Elmo’s Fire, and About Last Night …

Now celebrating over 30 years of sobriety, the 57-year-old actor openly speaks about his past trials as a way of connecting with fans who may currently be battling the exact same challenges. Being transparent and fearless is one of the reasons why fans embrace the actor with open arms, but he’s also one of the most consistent and skilled performers of his generation. Let’s look back on Rob Lowe’s most applauded and celebrated performances, from both film and television.

6 Tommy Boy

Rob Lowe in Tommy Boy
Paramount Pictures

Rob Lowe plays the main antagonist, Paul Barish, originally introduced to viewers as the stepbrother of Tommy (Chris Farley). Paul’s mother Beverly (Bo Derek) married Tommy’s father (Brian Dennehy), the wealthy owner of Callahan Auto’s Brake Pads facility. During the couple’s wedding reception, Tommy’s father suffers a heart attack, fatally killing him. Viewers later find out that Beverly is not Paul’s mother but is his wife, as the two con-artists strive to make Tommy’s life hell in Tommy Boy a hilarious 90s comedy with an obviously stacked and impressive cast (including David Spade and Dan Aykroyd). Spade and Farley actually had a rather brutal (if comical in hindsight) fight over Rob Lowe.

5 Wayne’s World

Rob Lowe in Wayne's World
Paramount Pictures

The feature film spin-off to Saturday Night Live‘s recurring sketch Wayne’s World, outlines the stories of Wayne (Mike Myers) and Garth (Dana Carvey) as they attempt to control the fate of their show. Benjamin Kane (Rob Lowe), portrays an executive producer who works tirelessly to upgrade the sketch into the platform of mainstream television. He might not be the most prominent part of the film, but Lowe is slick and smooth as butter.

4 Parks and Recreation

Rob Lowe is super optimistic despite the skull sign he's holding in Parks and Rec

Initially visiting the city of Pawnee as a state auditor (by assisting in solving the impactful budgeting problems in the town), Chris Traeger (Rob Lowe) later becomes Pawnee’s acting City Manager. As a super positive person who finds happiness in almost every tough situation, Chris remains lighthearted and zestful, relishing each opportunity he gets to say “literally” and mean it.

Related: Parks and Recreation Bloopers Videos Surface

One interesting layer of Chris in relation to his character, is his fascination with remaining healthy. Possibly contributed by his diagnosis a rare blood disorder as a newborn, doctors predicted he would not survive past three weeks. As an adult in Parks and Recreation and feeling the best he’s ever felt, Chris hopes to live past 150-years-old, and with his unbridled and winning optimism, the character probably could. Rob Lowe was a fan-favorite on the show, which can now only be streamed on Peacock.

3 The West Wing

Rob Lowe in The West Wing
Warner Bros.

During an episode of Rob Lowe’s podcast, Literally! With Rob LoweWhite House Press Secretary Jen Psaki revealed to the actor that his character on the classic politically-themed series The West Wing, literally (no pun intended) inspired her return to the position after her 2011 departure as deputy press secretary. It’s safe to say, Deputy Communications Director Sam Seaborn (Rob Lowe) has become a modern day innovator and catalyst for many modern people and their impromptu decision-making (when in doubt, ask what would Sam Seaborn do in the midst of adversity; you will definitely find answers). Even though projects about politics are sensitive subject matters to tackle, Lowe perfectly portrayed Seaborn in a manner that was both tremendously intellectual but also sarcastic and witty when needed.

2 The Grinder

Actor Rob Lowe
Twentieth Century Fox

Having absolutely no skill set in a specific field should not deter you from actually working in said field; yes, that sounds completely idiotic and dangerous, but save your questions, comments, and concerns for Dean Sanderson (Rob Lowe), because he did it. The Grinder was a short-lived but clever show about Sanderson, an out-of-work actor who previously played an attorney on a TV show called The Grinderas he moves back to his hometown to join the family’s law firm.

Working alongside his brother Stewart (Fred Savage), who’s an actual attorney, Dean does not have any degrees in law and no real experience being in a courtroom in real life. However, the modern world loves television and often confuses it with reality (electing a deranged television personality president as a result), so Sanderson manages to make the career work for him in this brief, funny series.

Related: Rob Lowe and Kaley Cuoco Joins The Drew Peterson Story

1 Drew Peterson: Untouchable

Rob Lowe plays Drew Peterson in Untouchable
Lifetime / Silver Screen Pictures

After the mysterious disappearance of his fourth wife, Stacy Peterson (Kaley Cuoco), Chicago-based police officer Drew Peterson (Rob Lowe) is finally charged with the death of his third wife, prompting a series of speculations into the man. Inspired by a series of true eventsthe real Drew Peterson was found guilty in the murder of his third wife, Kathleen Savio, following his ultimate conviction on September 6, 2012.

Based around Joseph Hosey’s nonfiction book Fatal Vowsthe Lifetime original movie Drew Peterson: Untouchable features a completely unrecognizable Rob Lowe as he depicts Peterson in a sinisterly compulsive way. Lowe really plays against type here, and is physically distinct from his everyday appearance, with white hair and a bizarre accent akin to the real man. The made-for-TV movie is somewhat derivative, but Lowe’s performance is spectacular.

The Outsiders Shoot Had Tom Cruise and Rob Lowe Sleeping in a Stranger's Basement

The Outsiders Shoot Had Tom Cruise and Rob Lowe Sleeping in a Stranger’s Basement

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