Rob Lowe's career fell into obscurity post 'Parks and Recreation' but '9-1-1: Lone Star' could change all that

A look into Rob Lowe's career, from how it rose, fell into obscurity and then rose once again


                            Rob Lowe's career fell into obscurity post 'Parks and Recreation' but '9-1-1: Lone Star' could change all that
Rob Lowe (Getty Images)
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Rob Lowe's eternally youthful, ever-positive face is a very recognizable one, despite him not having appeared in any big-name project for years. His last most recognizable role was as Chris Traeger in 'Parks & Recreation,' which ended in 2015. Though he's kept himself busy, Lowe largely fell out of the public eye, but the new '9-1-1' series may just be about to change all of that.

Lowe's career was off to a very promising start. One of his very first roles, in a TV film called 'Thursday's Child,' earned him his very first Golden Globe nomination for Best Supporting Actor in a Series, Miniseries, or Television Film. His breakout role came as one of the brothers in the coming-of-age classic, 'The Outsiders.' From there, Lowe quickly joined the ranks of what was popularly known as 'The Brat Pack' - a group of young actors who repeatedly appeared together in a variety of coming-of-age 1980s films, alongside other prominent actors such as Molly Ringwald, Robert Downey Jr. and Demi Moore. 

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One of Lowe's more recognizable roles was as Sam Seaborn on 'The West Wing' in 1999, the Deputy White House Communications Director for President Josiah Bartlet (Martin Sheen). His performance there was one of the highlights of his career, earning him a Primetime Emmy nomination as well as two further Golden Globe nominations for Best Actor in a Drama Series. As the young, POV character, Lowe was initially considered the show's lead, before the stellar performances of the rest of the cast evened the show out into more of an ensemble. Lowe would leave the show in its fourth season, claiming he did not feel as respected as the other actors, who received raises when he didn't.

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Immediately following 'The West Wing,' Lowe attempted to produce two television series himself - both of which were canceled. Undeterred, Lowe pressed on with his career, finding success in TV films and miniseries, most notably, in the Stephen King adaptation 'Salem's Lot.' In 2006, he would join the cast of 'Brothers & Sisters' as a series regular, however, he would leave that show in its fourth season as well, citing his unhappiness with the show's storylines as well as his reduced appearance on the series.

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His next major role would be as a series regular on 'Parks & Recreation,' a sitcom that gained a lot of popularity and was dearly beloved by fans all the way until its end in 2015. However, though he has continued work steadily before and since, few of his other projects truly caught the public eye. He has spent much of his career following one project after another in Hollywood's background. 

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He has since joked that a sex tape of his that was released in the 1980s would have helped his career had it come out a few decades later when his career was waning. "The real (expletive) up was that I didn’t wait 20 years later to do it where it would have helped my career,” Lowe joked, on a podcast with Marc Maron's 'WTF', adding he was "1 billion percent ahead of the curve." As it stands, his sexual controversies involving a technically legal underage girl (above the age of consent in Georgia at the time) and his leaked sex tape have neither positively nor adversely affected his career.

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His current role as Owen Strand on '9-1-1: Lone Star' - a spinoff from the popular '9-1-1' - might just change all of that, however. Playing the role of a firefighter captain from New York City now making a living saving lives in Texas, the show has received largely positive reviews and has been renewed for a second season, putting Lowe squarely back into the limelight.

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Lowe's career is a varied one, involving numerous projects that may never have invaded the public consciousness, but Lowe's face remains familar enough for his star to never have quite faded entirely, paving his way back to fame when the right role came along.