With only a few minor television roles to his name, Rob Lowe was ready to give up on acting and continue with life as an average 17-year-old. Prepared to pack his bags for UCLA to study film, he was sent on one last audition.
Thirty years later, the former Brat Packer is releasing a memoir that recalls the role that changed his life forever - as Sodapop Curtis in "The Outsiders" - and the tumultuous audition that preceded it. Complete with adolescent anecdotes featuring Charlie Sheen, Tom Cruise and Sean Penn, Lowe shares excerpts from his memoir, Stories I Only Tell My Friends: An Autobiograph, in next month's Vanity Fair. Here are some his juiciest revelations.
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1. Charlie Sheen was a nerd and conspiracy-theorist in high school.
Lowe remembers Charlie as "a wonderful mix of nerd and rebel." A member of the A/V club with a proclivity to play hooky, Charlie was also a "conspiracy-theory freak" who had a habit of wearing a bulletproof vest under his clothes to school. The classmates would "debate everything from the likelihood that the moon is hollow and whether the Trilateral Commission killed J.F.K. to the authenticity of the lunar landings."
2. Lowe was insecure about his acting career as a teen.
Having been accepted to both U.S.C. and U.C.L.A, Lowe was prepared to give up acting and enroll in college by the time he was finishing up Santa Monica High. He says, "At a time when all my friends are choosing which colleges to apply to, or finding an easier path in the business than I am, I'm wondering if Hollywood saw what it needed from me and decided I wasn't up to a career of substance or longevity. For the first time since I was an eight-year-old, I start thinking about finding something else to do with my life." Serious about his decision, the teen even notified his agents that he would no longer be available for any further roles.
3. Every struggling young Hollywood actor wanted to be cast in Redford's "Ordinary People."
Lowe was "devastated" after failing to be considered for the role every young actor strove for: the part of Conrad in Robert Redford's "Ordinary People." Emilio Estevez and Sean Penn vied for the role, but it ended up going to Timothy Hutton, who went on to win an Academy Award for it. Lowe became even more discouraged when he was unable to get a meeting for both "Fast Times at Ridgemont High," and "Taps," both starring his classmate Sean Penn.
4. Martin Sheen struggled with the stress of working with Francis Ford Coppola.
Spending a lot of time at the Sheen residence growing up, Lowe writes that working for Coppola changed Martin Sheen for life. "The stress, the hours, the heat of making "Apocalypse Now" had given Martin Sheen a heart attack in his mid-30s. He barely survived, and it changed him. Martin, usually full of life and laughter, was strangely quiet on the subject of all of us competing to work under the great master. In fact, he rarely speaks of "Apocalypse Now" or Francis at all," Lowe recalls. Before leaving for the set of "The Outsiders," Sheen even advised Lowe, "Don't let Francis make you do anything you're uncomfortable with."
6. Lowe was intimidated by Tom Cruise.