Chad Lowe on walking off an NBC sitcom, growing up with Charlie Sheen, skipping the Emmys, and more on “At Home With The Creative Coalition”
New York, New York (April 7, 2021) – Chad Lowe sat down with The Creative Coalition CEO Robin Bronk in the latest episode of “At Home With The Creative Coalition,” a podcast featuring unplugged and uncensored conversations with today’s biggest stars. In the newest episode, Lowe opens up about his decision to walk off the NBC sitcom “Spencer” when he was just 15 years old, subsequently getting sued by the network, growing up playing baseball with Charlie Sheen, his regrettable decision to skip the Emmys when he won for Best Supporting Actor, and more. Highlights below.
“At Home With The Creative Coalition,” sponsored by the Pioneering Collective, is available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, SoundCloud, and more.
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Highlights from “At Home With The Creative Coalition” featuring Chad Lowe —
On getting sued by NBC at the age of 15 after walking off the sitcom “Spencer”:
“I’m a 14-turning-15-year-old kid, who thinks he’s an adult, in an adult world making money as the face of a show that is moderately billed as a success. It was way, way too much, too quick for me. I can say that now in hindsight at 52, I can say that’s what was happening. At the time, I was not aware of it. You know, my mother, who was kind of laissez-faire about my ventures as an actor, she said, ‘Well, if you’re not happy then don’t do it anymore.’ And so I walked off that show… I had no idea at the time how big it was [to walk off a show]. I now recognize how big it was. At the time, I had no idea… I ended up getting sued by NBC… You know, I’ve never really talked about this, actually. It’s a part of my life that I’ve never really talked about for a number of reasons. One, I haven’t been able to make peace with it. For a long time, it’s really been hard on me — knowing that I willingly walked off of my own sitcom, my own television show. It was called ‘Spencer’ and I played Spencer. I know there are so many ramifications from that. I mean, at the time, I’m a kid so I’m selfish. I’m selfish and self-centered. I’m 14 and I don’t have the parental guidance… At the time, I knew in my, in some deep part inside me, knew that I was on a very bad track being the lead of a sitcom at that age and it was not going to lead me down a very healthy road. Enough so that I had the courage to leave and to option out of my contract. I was, of course, sued and actually there was a summary judgement on the suit because of a technicality in the way in which the contract was drawn up.”
On being told he’d never work again after walking off the NBC sitcom “Spencer” and how he got back into acting:
“I literally remember thinking — the threats were, ‘You’ll never work again. You will never be an actor again.’ And I remember thinking, ‘Okay. If this is what it means, if my choice is never act again or continue on this sitcom, well then I’ll never act again’… I did a play about eight months later, I was in high school and I got a play, a play called ‘Blue Denim’… It reminded me of my love of acting and the kind of acting that I wanted to be doing. So that kind of lit the spark again. I think I had a manager, my manager stayed with me, I had the same manager. And he said, ‘Look, we can try to start submitting you again for other opportunities and other jobs that come up.’ And I said, ‘Yeah, let’s go for it.’”
On moving from Ohio to Malibu as a kid, his famous neighbors, and becoming friends with Charlie Sheen:
“We had Bob Dylan, Jan-Michael Vincent, and Johnny Carson was living there. And Martin Sheen and his kids, Charlie, and Emilio, and Renée, and Ramon. And we moved a few houses away from them… [Martin’s] son Charlie and I hit it off right away because we both loved baseball. At this point, I’m 8 or 9 years old and I think Charlie was 10 or 11. And he was always out in the street throwing the ball and I loved baseball, too, and we hit off a friendship. And then we came to know that we both loved the Cincinnati Reds. His dad was from Dayton, Ohio, and I was from Dayton so all of a sudden I started to feel like, ‘Well, maybe this isn’t so foreign, maybe I can relate to these people.’ Can you believe that it’s the Sheen family that I can relate to?”
On his most satisfying job and playing the groundbreaking role of an HIV-positive character on “Life Goes On”:
“Being on ‘Life Goes On’ was really probably the most satisfying experience for me that I’ve ever had as an actor. And that was just because of the subject matter and the role that I got to play… I had the privilege of playing Jesse McKenna, a young man who was HIV-positive and, through the course of a few seasons that the show lasted with me in this role, developed AIDS, got sick, and went through what that looked like. Kellie Martin was the other lead of the show, she was the young girl in this family, the Thatcher family. And I played her boyfriend, the boyfriend who she brings home who’s HIV-positive. And so it really dealt with how life goes on for someone with HIV in that day and age. Obviously, it’s different today than it was then. But, you know, for me just realizing the impact that playing a role like that could have on people — I had so many people stop me and say, ‘I didn’t know how to come out to my parents and we were watching the show and I came out to my parents as we were watching this.’ Or people who had members of their family who were HIV-positive, who they had ostracized because they didn’t understand. This is back when people thought that you could get HIV from hugging somebody. We really were kind of groundbreaking in that we normalized people’s lives.”
On why he didn’t attend the Emmys in 1993 when he won in the Best Supporting Actor category for his role as an HIV-positive character on “Life Goes On”:
“I was nominated for an Emmy for Best Supporting Actor [in ‘Life Goes On’] and ended up winning the Emmy for Best Supporting Actor, but I was not there at the Emmys. There’s another regret… Because I’m a serious actor, because I don’t act for awards. So that’s what I’m thinking. Now remember, Martin Sheen being my mentor removed his name from consideration when he starred in ‘Apocalypse Now’… If I was ever nominated again, God willing, I’d be the first person in line.”
More about “At Home With The Creative Coalition”
Hosted by The Creative Coalition CEO Robin Bronk, “At Home With The Creative Coalition” brings listeners intimate portraits, key moments of discovery, and “art and soul” conversations with iconic entertainment industry personalities from the big screen to the boardroom, from L.A. to D.C. “At Home With The Creative Coalition” is sponsored by the Pioneering Collective. Listen now at http://thecreativecoalition.org/podcast.
Upcoming guests include David Alan Basche (“The Exes,” “United 93”), Asante Blackk (“When They See Us,” “This Is Us”), Carly Chaikin (“Mr. Robot”), Griffin Dunne (“This Is Us,” “Dallas Buyers Club”), Willie Garson (“Hawaii Five-0,” “White Collar”), Clark Gregg (“Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” “The Avengers”), New York Times Bestselling Author Susan Isaacs (“Compromising Positions,” “Takes One to Know One”), Eric McCormack (“Will & Grace,” “Travelers”), Rob Morrow (“Billions,” “The Fosters”), Haley Joel Osment (“Future Man,” “Entourage”), Jessica Queller (“Supergirl,” “Gossip Girl”), Alysia Reiner (“Better Things,” “Orange Is the New Black”), Yolonda Ross (“The Chi,” “How to Get Away with Murder”), Reid Scott (“Why Women Kill,” “Veep”), Matt Walsh (“Veep,” “UCB Comedy Originals”), Alfre Woodard (“Clemency,” “Luke Cage”), and Constance Zimmer (“Condor,” “UnREAL”).
Previous guests include Jason Alexander (“Curb Your Enthusiasm,” “Harley Quinn,” “Saturday Night Seder”), Wilson Cruz (“Star Trek: Discovery,” “My So-Called Life”), Alan Cumming (“Briarpatch,” “Instinct,” “The Good Wife”), The Creative Coalition President and actor Tim Daly (“Madam Secretary”), Lea DeLaria (“Orange Is the New Black”), Jim Gaffigan (“Tesla,” “The Jim Gaffigan Show”), Judy Gold (“The Other F Word,” “Nightcap”), Jason Isaacs (“The OA,” “Star Trek: Discovery,” “Harry Potter”), Richard Kind (“Curb Your Enthusiasm,” “Big Mouth,” “Gotham”), AnnaLynne McCord (“Nip/Tuck,” “90210”), Wendi McLendon-Covey (“The Goldbergs,” “Reno 911!”), Katherine McNamara (“Shadowhunters,” “Arrow”), Kathy Najimy (“Hocus Pocus,” “Sister Act”), (“ Bill Prady (“The Big Bang Theory,” “Young Sheldon,” “The Muppets”), Anthony Rapp (“Star Trek: Discovery,” “Rent”), and Julie Taymor (“The Lion King,” “Frida,” “The Glorias”).
More about The Creative Coalition
The Creative Coalition is the premier nonprofit, nonpartisan 501(c)(3) social and public advocacy organization of the arts and entertainment community. Founded in 1989 by prominent members of the creative community, The Creative Coalition is dedicated to educating, mobilizing, and activating its members on issues of public importance. Actor Tim Daly serves as the organization’s President. The Creative Coalition also creates award-winning public service campaigns including #RightToBearArts to promote the efficacy of the arts. For more information, visit https://thecreativecoalition.org.