Though Rob Lowe rose to prominence in Hollywood throughout the 1980s, and quickly became synonymous with the Brat Pack – along with fellow stars Emilio Estevez, Molly Ringwald, Demi Moore, and others – thanks to movies such as The Outsiders and St. Elmo’s Fire, he didn’t let his career peak at just that.
The actor went on to star as deputy White House Communications Director Sam Seaborn in Aaron Sorkin’s The West Wing, which aired for seven seasons after first premiering in 1999.
However, as beloved and crucial to the show as his character was, he shocked fans when he decided to leave in 2002 halfway through season four.
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Now, in a new interview on Stitcher Studios’ Podcrushed podcast, Rob gave insight into how it became the “best” decision he could ever make, despite the disappointment it caused.
“I felt very undervalued,” he confessed, adding: “It happens in any workplace. You can be in an environment where people sandbag you, wanna see you fail, don’t appreciate you – whatever it is.”
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Not holding back, he admitted: “I did not have a good experience and tried to make it work and tried to make it work and tried to make it work,” and even said: “I purposely didn’t share half of [these stories] because it would make the people involved look so bad that I didn’t want to do it to them,” referring to what he previously said about his time on the show in his 2011 memoir, Stories I Only Tell My Friends.
© GettyRob was in every single episode of West Wing until his departure
Rob compared his involvement with the show to being in a relationship with the most popular girl at school, noting how despite the pressure to stay, it wasn’t worth it.
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“Everybody likes her, she’s beautiful, it must be great – all the things that people would say about making The West Wing to me,” he said, noting how he wanted to be an inspiration to his kids, who were just starting to get into relationships.
© GettyThe cast of The West Wing
He continued: “‘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?”
The father-of-two also said: “What people forget is the minute I left, Aaron Sorkin left and then it wasn’t The West Wing anymore. It was ER in the White House, which is perfectly fine, but I’m not interested in that.”
© GettyThe actor has two sons, John and Matthew, with wife Sheryl Berkoff
Ultimately, he declared he had “zero regrets” about the decision, and stated: “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.”
Though Rob left halfway through season four of the show, he did make a comeback as Sam in 2020, when the whole cast reunited in 2020 for a special new episode for HBO Max to encourage fans to vote in the 2020 election.
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