If you were a guy in the 80s, you hated Rob Lowe at first sight. Because you had seen him. If you fancied yourself a good-looker, a real Don Juan of the rollerskating rink, so to speak, you were humbled. If you weren’t good-looking and knew it but had finally come to somehow accept it, laying eyes on Rob was still alarming. It was like God was “rubbing it in.” It was like our Creator saying, “See what I can create when I actually try? See how lazy I was the day I decided to fling you together out of spoiled cold cuts and a bunch of old wire hangers I had sitting around? See?”
Because the guy was downright perfect-looking. As Jim Belushi says to him in …About Last Night: “The best thing that could happen to you is an industrial accident.”
Well, that didn’t happen but a different kind of tragedy did. After impressing Francis Ford Coppola enough to cast him as Sodapop Curtis in The Outsiders–a movie that was basically the giving tree of 80s child actors–Rob, more so than any of them, and that includes Tom Cruise, seemed destined for major stardom. For a short while, he thrived, playing cocky, handsome rakes and smug assholes. Something happened in the late 80s, though, a certain pioneering incident involving a sex tape that sent his career off course for quite a while. Perhaps people really were outraged about his hotel room tape at the time, but now the footage looks as innocent as a Davey and Goliath cartoon compared to the clips that have followed. America seemed to realize this, and Rob slowly worked his way back into the public’s good graces, almost primarily working on television.
A lot of his comeback, I think, had to do with his own good nature. If he had come across like an off-screen dick the way, say, Judd Nelson always had, he may very well have been shunned forever. He hasn’t made any significant forays back onto the big screen yet, and perhaps he never will, but I don’t think he cares. He does television series (I think several at the same time at points, or maybe it just seems that way), made for TV movies (including a highly entertaining one about white trash hottie/murderess Casey Anthony) and even DirecTV ads. In these he plays himself opposite a bizarro world alter-ego, but this latter is one role he doesn’t quite pull off–even in full “super creep” make-up, you can see the sweet, grounded guy behind the mask.