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For the first time in his decades-long career, Chad Lowe will appear on-screen alongside his brother, Rob Lowe.
The 54-year-old will guest star in Monday’s episode of “9-1-1: Lone Star” in which firefighter Capt. Owen Strand [Rob] returns to Los Angeles and is faced with “painful childhood memories.” Robert Pine, star of ‘70s cop show “CHiPs” and father of actor Chris Pine, will play their dad.
Lowe previously directed two episodes of the FOX drama, which has a close connection to his family. Lowe’s nephew, John Owen Lowe, is also a writer for the series.
Lowe spoke to Fox News Digital about what compelled him to finally appear on-screen, what it was like growing up with Rob, 58, and what has kept the family grounded in Hollywood.
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Fox News: You previously directed two episodes of “9-1-1: Lone Star.” What compelled you to guest star now?
Chad Lowe: I got a phone call from the writer and one of the creators, Tim Minear. I expected the phone call was going to be about an episode I was going to direct. But he goes, “Hey, this is not about directing. Are you interested in acting?” I said, “I’m always interested – yes.” And he goes, “OK, I’ve got something for you.” I am such a fan of Tim’s work and admire him so much that I said “yes” before I even knew what exactly he was proposing.
Then he said, “You’re going to play Rob’s brother.” It was great. And then I realized this is the first time Rob and I will get to be in anything together. First time we’ve ever acted together. For all of these years, many people have asked why we haven’t done it sooner, or when we are going to do it. Rob and I have both wondered ourselves why we’ve never been in anything together.
Here it is, here’s that opportunity. I was thrilled and excited about playing this character. And when I read it, I was even more thrilled. It’s a lot of dialogue… I’ve been primarily directing. So my biggest worry was, “Am I going to remember my lines?” You always have that fear as an actor, that you’re not going to remember your lines. It terrifies every actor. And it happens to the best of us. But for me, I was on a show that I’ve already worked on as a director.
I did not want to fail. And I especially didn’t want to fail in front of my brother. Because I would hear about it for the rest of our lives *laughs*. But it was a little bit like riding a bicycle. And it didn’t hurt that I was with my brother. Rob is just a really talented actor. He really brings the best out of me.
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Fox News: What was it like to finally work alongside your brother?
Lowe: It was an incredible experience. We were able to bring our history – a lifetime of history – to these scenes and these moments that we shared on screen. There were so much unspoken [words] going on, and yet there’s the dialogue that we’re speaking. And there’s also this other life that we had, life experiences that we were able to bring. I think it’s just evident and it makes [the scenes] that much richer.
Fox News: This show is a family affair because your nephew also writes for it.
Lowe: John Owen is a writer on the show. I’ve had the pleasure of directing an episode that he wrote. So it truly was a family affair. We had Rob as the star, I was directing and John had written the episode. It was such a real thrill to have that opportunity.
Fox News: What’s it been like for you to watch your nephew find his footing in the TV and film industry?
Lowe: He’s very smart, he’s very sharp. I’ve always known that whatever he applied himself toward he would succeed because he’s really one of the smartest people I know. I often turn to John Owen for advice on anything current, be it fashion or social media skills *laughs*. He’s an expert on everything. He’s so well beyond his years… It’s not surprising to see him excel at all. I’m just an uncle, but I do have a real sense of pride watching him and all of his accomplishments.
Fox News: As a family in the film and television industry, what do you think has kept all of you grounded?
Lowe: Some might argue that we’re not grounded – we are in Hollywood after all *laughs*. But I think it’s always about family first. All the other stuff is on top of family. The foundation is family. The foundation is the love that we share for one another and each other. The most important thing is that bond. Everything else grows from that bond of family. That’s always been the most important thing to us. And I think it helps to have kids of my own. It’s very humbling and it keeps me grounded. There’s nothing more grounding than having your kids call you out.
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John Owen has famously called Rob out. I enjoy watching that dynamic play out on social media as much as anybody else. As soon as Rob posts something, I can’t wait to hear what John Owen’s take on it is going to be *laughs*. I have a similar dynamic with my kids, although they’re much younger. I have three daughters and my oldest is turning 13. I have a 9-year-old and a 6-year-old. They’re my life. Literally, they’re the most important things in my life. I feel really blessed and fortunate that’s the primary focus of my life. It really does put perspective into everything that I do.
Fox News: What’s your favorite childhood memory involving your brother?
Lowe: Oh my – I have so many. I couldn’t pick just one because I literally have a lifetime full of them… We would spend our summers together in Ohio with our father. And so our father would have to work during the day. We were just these two latchkey kids in Dayton, Ohio, in the summers, kind of running amok and getting into all sorts of trouble. We were like Butch and Sundance. We were connected to the hip with everything that we did our entire childhood. We have so many shared experiences. We have songs – I can mention a song title to him and it immediately brings us back to an incident that occurred, a shared experience.
I really couldn’t just pick one because there are literally so many of them. I just said literally just like Rob [in his podcast]. I think he stole it literally from me *laughs*… We’re very competitive. We grew up very competitive with one another. We’ve had our battles like all siblings do. But he’s always been my best friend. And I think he would say the same of me. He’s the person that I turn to for almost everything in my life. Aside from my wife and my kids, it’s him.
Fox News: What do you believe has been the secret behind the success of “9-1-1: Lone Star”?
Lowe: I think the secret sauce is just how much story it’s able to pack into a single episode that runs the gauntlet of human emotions. From the drama, the sadness, the conflict, the humor and then the action. It’s all of those ingredients in one episode. As a director, you could be directing something humorous and light-hearted, and then the very next scene, it’s incredibly emotional as it deals with life and death. And then the very next day, you’re going into this incredible location where a tragedy or rescue is happening in a building that’s on fire.
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Those set pieces are always so big and dynamic. Visually, it’s incredible to look at. But it’s also about these really drawn-out characters. I’ve always said that explosions and action are great to watch, but if you don’t care about the characters, there are no stakes. What I think they’ve done so well with “Lone Star” is they’ve created these characters that are so diverse, come from such different backgrounds, and yet they come together and are united, usually by a single cause. You’re rooting for them and you’re invested in them. You’re invested in their well-being and the outcome of what will inevitably be a huge event. Your heart is right there with them when they’re in rescue mode.
Fox News: When do you feel most like yourself, in front of the camera or working behind it?
Lowe: I love getting the opportunity to do both, act and direct. If I can do both, it’s a perfect balance because I think each satisfies certain and different parts of who I am. I think directing is where I feel most authentic and most challenged, whereas acting feels more insular and… more vulnerable. You’re oftentimes showing parts of yourself that you don’t normally present publicly.
Fox News: What do you hope audiences will get from this episode featuring you and your brother?
Lowe: Well, it’s the first time we’ve ever been on-screen, which I’m excited to see if I watch it. I sometimes find it hard to watch myself. But I think this episode scratches deeper into the surface of what makes [Rob’s character] Owen frantic. He’s going to confront past issues that present themselves. It’s kind of an origin story. And also, it’s cathartic for him. I know Rob was really thrilled because he got to surf *laughs*. I haven’t seen the whole episode yet, but I saw some of the sequences and they’re beautiful. We get to see another side of Owen Strand, a more vulnerable side of him.
“9-1-1: Lone Star” airs Monday at 9 p.m. on FOX.