Rob Lowe, the star of Lifetime’s remake of horror classic The Bad Seed talks about bringing up boys, the virtues of partying too hard, and the key to handling regret.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
I’ve been sober for 28 years, and a common tenet of recovery is: “Never compare your insides to someone else’s outsides.” You never know what challenges someone else may be dealing with. It’s always good to remember that, because inevitably you look at other people and think, “Well, gosh. If they’re doing so well, why can’t I?”
What motivated you as a kid?
I always felt different. I was an 8-year-old kid who knew 100 percent that I wanted to be an actor or filmmaker. That unrelenting drive at 8 years old was, I can imagine, very hard for a lot of people to wrap their head around.
How should a man handle getting older?
You go to 50 and stop counting. I mean, women have been doing that forever—why can’t men?
You’ve been married for almost 30 years. What’s the secret to a successful marriage?
It’s exactly the same answer for the secret to a successful movie: casting.
What is the one thing every man should understand about women?
Above all else, they want to be heard.
What do you think every father should know about raising boys?
Honestly, the number one thing is to keep them healthy, alive, and not too dinged up by impetuous and poor choices. They’re boys, so you’ve got to let them screw up, but you want to put the rails up on the bowling lanes so they don’t ruin their lives in the process.
You’ve raised two boys. What is the toughest challenge you’ve faced as a father?
Navigating the temptation to be their friend as opposed to their father. You need dad and mom to be dad and mom.
How should a man handle criticism?
I think you want to get to a place where you actually enjoy a good criticism because it gives you something to build on. But one of my favorite things about being where I am in my life is I give no fucks anymore. I’m not auditioning on any level, for anyone, anywhere. There’s nothing more cringy than a grown man worrying about what others think.
Who is the biggest influence on your life?
It has to be my wife. We’ve known each other for well over 30 years, and the number of times where she has helped me make better decisions than I would’ve made on my own is innumerable.
What advice would you choose to give to your younger self?
I probably spent a little too much time having fun when I could’ve dug in more to building my career. But at the end of the day, if I wasn’t out having fun and being a lunatic, and gobbling up every single thing that life put in front of me, I wouldn’t be who I am today. And I wouldn’t have material for my one-man show.
So, basically, “party harder”?
Party harder, but you better know when the party’s over.
What role should vanity play in a man’s life?
I certainly don’t think it’s anything to be ashamed of. I think everybody has a natural, God-given inclination to be the best version of themselves. And I think to deny that is to deny part of our essence. Some of my heroes are among the most vain people walking the planet. False modesty is way worse.
How should a man handle regret?
My biggest fear is that I will end up with a life of regrets. And I think the way to avoid that is to take advantage of every opportunity offered to you. And try to live an authentic life, try to live according to some sort of a code. If you can do that, you’re going to be good to go.