American brothers Rob and Chad Lowe became actors in childhood (Chad would ultimately win an Emmy for his TV work). Rob was acting from the age of eight in 1972; seven years later, he was a regular on the TV series A New Kind of Family, playing the teenaged son of star Eileen Brennan. That series was shot down quickly, but Lowe's film career picked up when newspaper and magazine articles began aligning the handsome, sensitive young actor with the burgeoning Hollywood "brat pack," which included such new talent as Molly Ringwald, Matt Dillon, Charlie Sheen, and Anthony Michael Hall. Along with several fellow "packers" (Demi Moore, Judd Nelson, Ally Sheedy, and Emilio Estevez), Lowe starred in 1985's St. Elmo's Fire; this film and the earlier Hotel New Hampshire (1984) represent the most memorable projects in Lowe's otherwise negligible film output. In 1989, Lowe's already flagging film stardom received a severe setback when he was accused of videotaping his sexual activities with an underage girl (the evidence has since become a choice item on the sub-rosa video cassette circuit). Arrested for his misdeeds, Lowe performed several hours' worth of community service, then tried to reactivate his career. Since then, Lowe has matured into something of a brat-pack George Hamilton, successfully lampooning his previous screen image in such comedies as Wayne's World (1992) and Tommy Boy (1995).
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Though his comedic endeavors would continue throughout the 1990s in films such as Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997) and its sequel, Lowe gained notice for such dramatic roles as that of the mute and strangely plague-immune Nick Andros in the long-anticipated TV miniseries adaptation of Stephen King's The Stand (1994). Lowe's roles throughout the '90s may have not been the prominently featured roles in A-list films that his early shooting-star may have suggested, though he did maintain steady work in an interesting variety of small-budget projects. Lowe's casting on the popular political drama The West Wing brought the actor back into the public eye in what many considered to be one of the most intelligently written dramatic series on television. His turn as quick-witted liberal speechwriter Sam Seaborn brought Lowe through the dark days of his scandalous past, back to an audience who may have forgotten his charm as an actor. He would stay with the series until 2005, all while continuing to pick new projects that involved creativity and an open mind. He tested his limits with roles in films like Salem's Lot and Thank You For Smoking, and in 2004, he began starring in his own TV series, playing Dr. Billy Grant on the crime drama Dr. Vegas. The show lasted until 2008, by which time he had already signed on for the prime time dramedy Brothers & Sisters, starring alongside Calista Flockhart. He had a major part in The Invention of Lying in 2009, and that same year he landed a regular gig on the well-reviewed NBC sitcom Parks and Recreation. In 2011 he was the executive producer and one of the leads in the ensemble film I Melt With You. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi