Rob Lowe Got Called To The White House And Thought He Was Under Arrest

Rob Lowe thought he was in serious trouble when he was summoned to the White House!

By Michileen Martin | Published

This article is more than 2 years old

rob lowe

These days, it’s tough to think of Rob Lowe without also thinking of his hilarious turn as the terminally upbeat and disgustingly health conscious Chris Traeger of Parks & Recreation. But in the late ’90s and early aughts, Lowe was well-known for a show with a much different tone — the political drama The West Wing. In a recent interview, Lowe reveals that it was in part his role in The West Wing that found him in the White House worried he was about to get arrested.

It was in the YouTube series Hot Ones — in which celebrities are interviewed while being invited to eat spicy food — that Rob Lowe confessed that he though was going to come out of the most famous house in America in handcuffs. The actor said during a visit to Bill Clinton’s White House, he was summoned to the office of the national security advisor, Sandy Berger, who Lowe described as “a really gnarly, tough, bare-knuckle dude.” He says Berger curtly told him to sit down, which left the actor thinking “Oh, I’m f—ed. This has got to be about my taxes.” But instead of siccing the IRS or any other federal agencies on Lowe, Berger merely asked — referring to The West Wing — “Why isn’t there a national security advisor on your show?” Lowe doesn’t say how he answered, though we’re guessing both Lowe and his accountant breathed a deep sigh of relief right about then. You can see the entire video below.

Rob Lowe had an interesting journey on The West Wing. At the outset of the political drama starring Martin Sheen as President Josiah Bartlet, Lowe’s Sam Seaborn — Bartlet’s deputy communications director and one of his chief speechwriters — seemed to be the closest thing the ensemble series had to a main character. However, as recalled by CBR, after a few seasons Seaborn was sidelined while other characters took center stage. Originally one of the top earners on the series, by season 3 Lowe was the only actor in the lead cast whose salary hadn’t doubled. A storyline was created to facilitate his season 4 departure, though he returned in the final season in a recurring role.

While Rob Lowe escaped scrutiny during his visit to the White House, a decade earlier he wasn’t so lucky. After a video tape was leaked to the press of Lowe — who was 24 at the time — allegedly having sex with a 16 year old girl, his career took its biggest body blow to date. While the actor claimed to not know the girl was underage, he still faced a lawsuit from her mother. Lowe’s role on The West Wing was one of his biggest steps on his road to a comeback.

While time has seemed to turn the incident into background noise, Rob Lowe turned up the volume of the 30 year old scandal a couple of years ago. On Sirius XM’s The Jess Cagle Show (via Yahoo Entertainment), Lowe called the scandal “the best thing that ever happened” to him — giving the controversy the credit for his subsequent sobriety and marriage. He also joked about other celebrity sex tapes, saying “The problem was, I didn’t make any money off of it like everybody does. I was too stupid.” His comments were seen by many as callous and self-serving, and social media let him have it.