Rob Lowe on Family, 9/11, Charlie Sheen and Sobriety

Former teen idol talks about raising a family and his old friend, Charlie Sheen.

May 3, 2011, 9:42 AM

May 3, 2011— -- Nearly 30 years after his first big role as an "outsider," former Brat Packer and acting superstar Rob Lowe said it's all about family now.

In his new memoir, "Stories I Only Tell My Friends," Lowe writes that sobriety and wife Sheryl Berkoff made him the man he is today: an actor who has not only reinvented himself on television but a man who puts family first.

Read an excerpt from Rob Lowe's Book, "Stories I Only Tell My Friends."

"I have had a lot of blessed, interesting, things happen to me and have bumped up against some amazing people," Lowe, 47, told ABC News' Robin Roberts in an interview that aired on "Good Morning America" today. "When I went to put it on paper, I went, 'Wow, this is kind of cool.'"

Roberts showed Lowe a 1983 clip from "Good Morning America" of a then 19-year-old actor appearing in an interview with Kathie Lee Gifford.

"What's it like for you, Rob, all of a sudden being turned into this teen idol?" Gifford asked.

"It's interesting," Lowe said. "It makes my life exciting sometimes and in other times it makes it uncomfortable. And then when you go home, you want to have your little brothers like jump on your bed and wake you up and have to take out the trash and, you know, brings you down-to-earth and it makes you just centered."

Watching the clip, a visibly shaken Lowe said he saw his sons in his teen self. "I look at that and I just go, 'Oh, my gosh, that's Matthew [17] and John Owen [15].' That's the age my kids are. So I look at that and that's what I'm seeing."

Lowe read from his book, "I'm writing this looking out the window at my younger son playing with his dog, David. I look at my boy and I am looking at myself. I want to give the advice that I know he needs to hear.

"And on the occasions when I do talk to my boys about love, career, family, and all of life's unknowable mysteries, I realize that I'm also talking to myself. And I wonder would my life have turned out differently if I'd have had this perspective."

"Do you think it would have?" Roberts asked.

"I actually do," Lowe said. "I probably wouldn't have had to learn quite so many lessons the hard way."

Back then, Lowe looked as if he had descended from heaven to answer the prayers of teenage girls everywhere. He perfected the charismatic bad boy in films such as "The Outsiders," "St. Elmo's Fire" and "About Last Night."

His devil-may-care persona blended seamlessly into his personal life. He dated a string of high-profile women and was often photographed carousing late into the night with a group of the hottest young stars in Hollywood, dubbed the Brat Pack.

But he found himself at the center of a tabloid scandal in 1988 with his career faltering; a private sex tape leaked and sold en masse. Today, he said, such a tape can launch a career.

"Nowadays, literally, people actually do them, hire a specific lawyer in L.A. that everybody knows, and then they're just shocked, shocked that it got out," Lowe said. "And then they get paid. And then it helps them. But it was a different time then."

Lowe said it was good for him, though, having to go through the scandal. "It was very good for me because it began this series of sort of looking inward and trying to figure out what I am really doing with my life, which got me sober."

By the 1990s, Lowe said, he was different person. He was forced to reassess his life and quit drinking. This week marks 21 years sober, he said.

"I was just blessed that when I got there, I was ready to take it seriously," Lowe said.

Growing up, Lowe was close with the Sheen family --father Martin Sheen and sons Charlie Sheen and Emilio Estevez -- a relationship Lowe writes about in his book. He said he and Charlie Sheen have been friends since they were 13.

Lowe and Sheen Agree to Disagree

He said the two have agreed to disagree on Sheen's getting help and becoming sober.

"I wrote and finished this book before all of the latest chapters in Charlie's life where unfolding," Lowe said. "He knows my position. I know his position. But I respect a guy that's like, 'Hey, man, it's my life. Live it the way I live it.'"

As for Lowe, he eventually married make-up artist Sheryl Berkoff in 1991.

"I say in the book when I was a young punk and you would have asked me what the best thing that ever could have happened to me, I would have said getting a Martin Scorsese movie," Lowe said of Berkoff, 49. "But God had other plans. He gave me Sheryl. And she is the best thing that ever happened to me."

Lowe taped the interview with "Good Morning America" Monday morning, hours after the news that Osama bin Laden had been killed. Lowe said he was compelled to go and pay his respects after he heard the news at dinner.

"I went to Ground Zero," he said. "I went to Times Square. And as I was walking through the crowd and just being with people and sort of being a part of that moment, the firefighters hugged me and asked me to get up on top of the rig with them," Lowe said. "It was really emotional and just great to be part of this amazing moment."

Lowe was on the American Airlines flight 11 days before it would eventually crash into the Pentagon on 9/11. "It was a dry run with the 9/11 hijackers surrounding me in the cabin, same crew," Lowe said.

He said he knew the crew well, often taking the flight from Washington, D.C.'s Dulles International Airport to Los Angeles International Airport while filming "The West Wing."

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