Saturday, April 29, 2006

Rob Lowe in "Thank You For Smoking"

Rob Lowe is being praised for his role in the feature film "Thank You For Smoking". You can read reviews of the film here, and the site includes links to trailers and clips. National Public Radio broadcast a review on Morning Edition including a clip of a scene with Rob Lowe.

From the Philipine Daily Inquirer:
"ROB LOWE’S PRETTY FACE is maturing well. As he settles into middle age, the hot poster boy of the ’80s has also developed an easy, if self-deprecating, air about him. He can freely joke about himself. This member of the Brat Pack is lucky to have a steady career at this stage in his life. He could have fizzled into oblivion or become a has-been appearing in B projects but these days, the blue-eyed actor is enjoying a respectable, if not spectacular, run.

Fortunately for Rob, it turns out that he has acting chops that enabled him to make the transition from hunk du jour to, simply, Actor. He has a short but memorable role as a top Hollywood agent in “Thank You For Smoking.” In this brilliant satire that we saw with Rob at Sundance last January (it sparked a bidding war among film distributors), his character is a source of amusing sight gags that illustrate the ostentatiousness of that powerful Hollywood animal, the Agent.

Rob—and the rest of the cast of “Thank You”—got excellent reviews. The actor, whose early credits include starring with Tom Cruise, Matt Dillon and Patrick Swayze as teenagers in Francis Ford Coppola’s acclaimed 1983 film, also earned favorable notices last year when he dared venture into the London stage in the play “A Few Good Men.”

Rob recently returned to the set of “The West Wing” to appear in its farewell episode. He earned the critics’ respect, and ultimately an Emmy nomination for his portrayal of a White House communications director in the TV series which he quit in 2002 due to pay disputes.

The former party animal, once linked to such high profile ladies as Monaco’s Princess Stephanie, socialite Cornelia Guest and actress Nastassja Kinski, and whose high school classmates included Charlie Sheen and Sean Penn, have settled into domesticity with wife Sheryl Berkoff. The couple, married in 1991, are raising two sons in Santa Barbara, California.

When you think about the early part of your career, what comes to your mind?
A lot of my early movies are being reissued on DVD on their 20th anniversaries (laughs). I’m glad that I’m still here, talking before you guys. Lately, I’ve been doing a DVD commentary for the 25th year of “The Outsiders.”
It makes me think about those times [when] my life was just about going from project to project and that was my total focus. I had nobody to answer to but myself. No mortgage... wife... [or] kids. You’re just thinking along the lines of “Hey, I hope I can be in that new Scorsese movie.” It was a really simple, fun time like we all had when we were kids. I get to re-live that every time I turn on HBO or Showtime and see one of my old movies. It’s kind of cool.

What do you think about the new Rob Lowes?
I don’t run into them at restaurants because I don’t live here (in LA) so my exposure to the new generation—I never thought I’d be saying that (laughs)—I want to go blow my brains out now, thank you (laughs). My exposure to the new generation is limited to what I read and see. It’s the same story for any generation. You’re new, you’re getting famous really young, you don’t know who you are. The ones who have it together really stand out. In my generation, among the guys who were really focused early on was Tom Cruise. Tom always had his eye on the ball. Today, I see that in Reese Witherspoon.

Do your sons look like you?
They look a lot like their mom but yeah, they’re blonde versions of me. My oldest son is going to his first sock hop this week. He’s dressing as Soda Pop Curtis (Rob’s character) in “The Outsiders” which gives him an unfair advantage. He’s going to get some girls to dance with him based on that alone.

How old are you now?
Forty-two, but I am going to start lying about my age now (laughs).

You don’t look 42.
Good, because I am going to start lying for real (laughs) in the next press conference.

I am not going to ask who you based your agent character on in “Thank You For Smoking.”
You can ask.

Okay, who?
The love of all things Asian is based on Mike Ovitz because everybody knows he loves the art of war and Sun Tzu. He was very into that but the demeanor is not Mike Ovitz at all. The demeanor is actually a combination of three or four people that I cannot name but it’s the new version of powerful “agenting.” In the old days it was, “You’ll never work in this town again.” That’s much too messy. So now, it is equally as full of shit, if you’ll excuse me (laughs). Now, it’s “We’re just humble people (laughs), artists trying to put people together.” That’s the new dynamic and that’s what I was trying to do.

What’s the worst piece of advice that an agent has given you?
That I should take a movie for way less than I’d ever made before. I thought, wow, if that’s what he thinks I’m worth, I’d better get a new agent.

Did you?
I did, and I ended up doing the movie for what I wanted to do it for. But generally, I’ve been lucky. Everybody who has represented me has been really great. Agents are a lot like politicians. I was on a show about politics (“The West Wing”) for a long time. Politicians are easy targets. They’re easy to make fun of. A lot of people don’t like them and there are a lot of them that are unlikable.
Same with agents. But in my experience, most agents believe in what they do. They want to help talent. They want talent to succeed. Although I had a lot of fun making fun of agents in this movie, the truth is, like most politicians, most agents take their jobs really seriously and are good at it.

Was the kimono scene your idea?
It was Mr. Jason Reitman’s idea (laughs). We have a picture of us on the set—the wardrobe person is showing us the kimono and I’m looking at it like, “Whoa, pal, I don’t know about this (laughs).” We actually had a moment where I said to Jason, “Am I really going to wear this kimono in the movie?” and he went, “Yeah, I think you are.” I said, “All right, let’s do it.” I’m glad I did, because the biggest laugh every time I see the movie is when it’s revealed that it’s me in the kimono.
I was thinking about this. One of my favorite, though sad, moments at the Oscars every year is the “In memoriam” sequence (dedicated to film talents who died in the past year). I said to Jason, “In 60 years, 70 years, whatever it is, God bless when I’ve moved on to the great movie in the sky, if that kimono is in my ‘in memoriam’ portion (laughs), I will kill you.”

What was it like wearing that kimono?
Like wearing an iron suit. You’re like the Tin Woodsman in “The Wizard of Oz.” They would just sort of tilt me against the wall. You can’t take it off by yourself. It was very uncomfortable. It was very heavy. When my first set of really nice reviews came out for this, Jason wanted to buy me a kimono as a gift (laughs).

There’s a funny line in the movie that is said a couple of times, that Aaron’s character did it for the mortgage.
I love it. The Yuppie Nuremberg Defense, they call it: “I did it for the mortgage.”

Can you tell us which films you did for the mortgage?
I think if you go to and look at my filmography, you can probably guess (laughs).

How was your experience appearing in a play (“A Few Good Men”) in London?
I was there for six months, which really takes you off the market for a year. I’m still paying the effects of that but I’m glad I did. I was welcomed with open arms on every level—both the critics, who were fantastic to me, and the audiences. We were always number one among the straight drama plays.
I met (British Prime Minister) Tony Blair when he came to the rehearsal to say hello. It was just an amazing experience. But the agents went, “Oh, you’re going to go work for free for six months, huh? Fantastic (laughs).”

Back to the time when you were a party animal…
Party animal (laughs). She’s (the reporter) throwing down the party animal card.

Well, you were talking about just going from one project to another and living a carefree life. Are you a man now?
Wow. There was probably a series of events. I don’t think there was any one thing. I am not doing an Oprah (Winfrey) confessional but getting sober was a big thing for me. It has been 16 years now that I have been sober. Getting married, having children. That informs who you are, as a man and then, just good old-fashioned age. Good old-fashioned time on the planet dealing with problems, making mistakes. I think a combination of those things probably got me to the point where I go “Yeah, I’m definitely not a boy anymore.”"

From CNN Headline News's Showbiz Tonight (broadcast April 23)
"ANDERSON: You know, A.J., when I sat down with Rob Lowe, I asked him if he had any desire to be in politics. And you might be surprised at what he had to say. But first we talked about his role in the movie "Thank You for Smoking" and why he has had it with political correctness.

ANDERSON: You play a Hollywood super agent. Actuality biggest agent in Hollywood in this film. And in working with the tobacco companies you come up with this outrageous scenario. Brad Pitt and Katherine Zeta Jones lying naked in a space station lighting up, smoking cigarettes.

ROB LOWE, ACTOR: After getting it on.

ANDERSON: Right, of course. But is that scenario really so farfetched for Hollywood?

LOWE: Listen. I`ve been in this business for a long time. I don`t put anything past anybody.


LOWE: No way.

ANDERSON: Well you probably get more scripts than you know what to do with thrown at you. What are some of the most outrageous things that you`ve read that people have pitched?

LOWE: Oh, gosh. Somebody just pitched me the other day a TV series where everybody wanted to rob me. Actually me. Being robbed at the end of the season. So .

ANDERSON: Numerous times by numerous people?

LOWE: One can only guess. Believe me. I`ve had more bad ideas. More good ideas. Not sure maybe great. But I`ve seen it all pretty much.

ANDERSON: So you have to really sift through them. Is there one that you can remember that you just thought, they got to be kidding me.

LOWE: Let me see. You know, I guess I`ve been sort of fortunate in that there hasn`t been a complete utter, they got to be kidding me moment. But yeah, there`s still time.

ANDERSON: This film is about big tobacco. And how it tries to influence people to smoke. Were you ever uncomfortable with the scenario?

LOWE: Well you know, really to me the movie`s about -- It is about that. But it`s really about how I`m so sick of political correctness.

ANDERSON: What specifically do you really hate?

LOWE: Oh. What do I -- you know what, that list is so long.

ANDERSON: There have been books written about this.

LOWE: And there`ll be more.

ANDERSON: That`s right. That`s right.

LOWE: And there will be more. I just think people, I think people know the truth when they hear it. And they know it when they see it. And one of the things I love about the movie is it`s really about being a free thinker and an independent thinker. And that`s sort of where I`m at. So when this came my way, I just really liked what it had to say.

Very quick story. I have an actor friend of mine playing a man convicted of being a mass murderer and going to the gas chamber. And he wanted - the actor wanted to smoke in the scene as a last wish. The network wouldn`t let him do it.


LOWE: OK to be a mass murder. Not okay to smoke. Weird.

ANDERSON: It is. Strange dichotomy there.


ANDERSON: Which you hate. OK. You are starring not only on the big screen but on the small screen as well. And the "West Wing" coming to an end. It`s had a great, great run. But there`s a lot of competition on television these days. The other television show out there now about the inner workings of the White House, "Commander in Chief."

LOWE: That`s right.

ANDERSON: Hasn`t been doing so well. What do you think about that? While "American Idol: is just thriving. Do you think people want escapism? Do they not want the politics?

LOWE: When the "West Wing" was in its heyday in the first four years and there was "The Sopranos." There was the "West Wing." "24" had just come out. "Six Feet Under" was on. "Sex in the City." A lot of those are gone now. We`re in a cycle now where those shows are not a lot of people are particularly interested in. Other than "24" which is great. But it all changes. It`s all about timing. We are living in the "American Idol" age.

ANDERSON: We are. Do you watch "American Idol"?

LOWE: I do.


LOWE: I do.

ANDERSON: So you`re a fan just like .

LOWE: I am a fan. It`s great. Addicting. It`s a great show.

ANDERSON: Speaking of politics with the "West Wing." Celebrities recently have been speaking out about their own political views. Particularly against President Bush at times.

LOWE: Right.

ANDERSON: Do you think celebrities have an obligation because their following to stand up for what they believe in? Because they can make a difference if they want to.

LOWE: Listen, I think it`s a great American tradition to stand up for what you believe in. And I always respect people who do it. The only caveat I think is that you have to be careful that it doesn`t effect your audiences` ability to see the art that you make for what it is. And that`s the fine line that I think you have to walk.

ANDERSON: Any aspirations for political office yourself, ever, you think?

LOWE: Oh, my wife would kick me out of the house so fast.

ANDERSON: You are a good speaker. I can see it.

LOWE: She would -- it would be divorce Hollywood style if I ever said honey, I`m thinking about running for something.

ANDERSON: Does your wife wear the pants in the family?

LOWE: Listen. That`s the key to a successful marriage. Come on. Let`s just call a spade a spade.

ANDERSON: What is the key to success in addition to that? Because you guys have been married what -- 15 years?

LOWE: It`ll be 15 years. Yeah.

ANDERSON: Yeah. You don`t see that very often in Hollywood.

LOWE: No. And I don`t think you see it very often anywhere. I mean, you know, it`s tough. Marriage is tough. I mean I have no answers. It`s up and down and it`s wonderful. And it`s a struggle and it`s all of these things that we all know. You know? But I love it. And if I have an answer, I would bottle it and sell it and I would retire.

ANDERSON: And make billions.

LOWE: Billions.

ANDERSON: Probably.


ANDERSON: Rob also told me that he thinks Hollywood has lost some of its creativity. But that he`s an optimist and that he believes it will get better. You can catch Rob Lowe in the final season of "The West Wing" on NBC and also in "Thank You for Smoking" which is in theaters now."

From the AP:
" Rob Lowe says they tried out several different celebrities to make fun of in a scene of Thank You For Smoking before settling on Brad Pitt and Catherine Zeta-Jones.

They started with Julia Roberts and then some others. He jokes that Pitt and Zeta Jones were picked because they were the only ones who wouldn't sue. "

From the Pasadena Star News:
"Asked to cite favorite on-screen antiheroes, cast and crew members of the film Thank You for Smoking' were brought up short before breaking out big grins and a few choice examples.

Anybody from the movie 'Network,' my favorite movie,' says Rob Lowe, who, in Smoking' plays an agent patterned on Mike Ovitz. In TV, they talk about antiheroes a lot, but really you can look at Tony Soprano and that's about it.'"

From an interview with Jason Reitman, the film's director, from
"CS: Can you talk about some of the rest of the cast like Robert Duvall, and about the controversy surrounding others like Katie Holmes and Rob Lowe?
Reitman: ....Katie did this movie before she met Tom Cruise. She was just lovely and got the sense of humor in the movie immediately. [She] was wonderful to work with. It kills me to see how she's getting hammered now because she's really just a lovely girl. Rob Lowe [laughs], I don't know how to talk about his controversy, because I was an infant when that happened. I don't remember how that played out and didn't see the video either. It's exciting for me to read the press reactions to the movie and see Rob in the first, second or third line and mention how much they love Rob and how funny they think he is in it. He's a funny guy—he's a guy who calls Dennis Miller one of his best friends. I think it would be great to see him do more stuff like this. He definitely starting doing stuff like that on "The West Wing," and I hope that this will help.

CS: Have you ever met an agent like Rob Lowe's character?
Reitman: Yes, the character is obviously named after the character in the book, but Rob kind of took it to another level. He based the speech pattern on an agent who he won't name. It's the new power agent in Hollywood, what he calls it is an arrogant version of modesty. They're not slimy; they're the opposite. They take modesty to a level where it's arrogant. I think that's pretty clever."


RC said...

Lowe did really good in the did Ekhart...

katie holmes was a wierd casting choice.

--RC of

Anonymous said...

i just wish Rob Lowe was in this movie alot more. He didn't play a big part. the only reason i got the movie was cause of him.