Rob Lowe is opening up about his reason for leaving the Emmy-winning series The West Wing decades ago.
In an interview on the latest episode of the Podcrushed podcast, which was conducted before the actors strike, the 9-1-1: Lone Star actor revealed that he felt “very undervalued” during his time on set.
“Whenever I talk to actors who complain about, you know, their relationships on their shows, it happens – it happens in any workplace,” Lowe told hosts Penn Badgley, Nava Kavelin and Sophie Ansari. “You could be in an environment where people sandbag you, want to see you fail, don’t appreciate you, whatever it is.”
Before his 2002 departure from Aaron Sorkin’s popular political drama, Lowe played deputy White House communications director Sam Seaborn. But looking back, he said that he “did not have a good experience.”
“Whenever I share my stories, people are like, ‘I will never share my own stories again,’” the actor added. “They would make your hair stand up, and there’s some of them I wrote. I shared some of them in my book, but I purposely didn’t share half of the other ones because it would make the people involved look so bad that I didn’t want to do it to them.”
Lowe admitted that he “tried to make it work,” but ultimately made the decision to part ways with the series. He went on to make a comparison between The West Wing and the abusive relationships he saw his children get into when they got older.
“My kids were getting to a certain age where I could see them having first girlfriends and being in a relationship that was abusive and taking it,” he said. “‘She’s the popular girl, everybody likes her, she’s beautiful, it must be great’ – all the things that people would say about making The West Wing to me. ‘It’s so popular, it’s so amazing, it must be amazing.’ But I know what it’s like, and if I couldn’t walk away from it, then how could I empower my kids to walk away from it?”
Lowe added to the analogy, “I walked away from the most popular girl at school, but I also knew that it was a super-unhealthy relationship, and it was the best thing I ever did.”
At the time, it was reported that the actor was written out of the show in season four over money and screen time disputes. He later reprised his role for two episodes in the seventh and final season.