"It would be many years until I did, but that was always my fear, that I would end up alone," recalled Lowe.
Trigger Warning: This story contains details of alcohol abuse that may be disturbing to readers.
Rob Lowe's rise to fame was in 1983 when he was a part of Francis Ford Coppola's feature film debut The Outsiders. It was a coming-of-age drama costarring Emilio Estevez, Tom Cruise, and Matt Dillon, and for Lowe, this was a dream come true. Working in the movie provided him with a work-hard, play-hard lifestyle he'd come to embrace with open arms, according to PEOPLE.
As his career exploded after 1985's St. Elmo's Fire, he was on an all-time high.
He emulated his St. Elmo's character, the "loveable rogue" Billy Hicks, for years. He says, "I became so identified with it — the wild, fun, rock and roll, quasi-debauched with the heart of gold [guy]: that's my early twenties in a nutshell."
The fame that made him a celebrity overnight, along with the hysterical fans, was something he couldn't understand at first. "I just knew that all the goodwill coming towards me wasn't really about me, because I hadn't changed," he says. "Look, there's also part of it that's super fun. I was in Santa Monica High School, and I really had to pick who I would invite to the junior prom because I didn't want to get turned down; a year later, people were breaking into my house and stealing my underwear."
Asked how many pairs, Lowe says, "Enough that I noticed."
From there, he acted in numerous movies, and his career was at an all-time high, but Lowe long suspected there would come a day of reckoning. "I remember watching Shampoo and when I saw Warren [Beatty] left alone and broken at the end, I absolutely felt like, 'Oh, this is how my life will play out if I don't figure it out,'" he recalls. "It would be many years until I did, but that was always my fear, that I would end up alone. Intimacy and I were not very well acquainted until very late in my life."
As expected, he hit rock bottom in 1990, at the age of 26. When he got home one night after a usual night of partying, he was greeted by a message mother left a message on his answering machine saying his grandfather had a heart attack. She pleaded for Lowe to pick up. He did not.
Instead, "I remember going into the bathroom, looking at myself in the mirror and my thought process was, 'You need to drink directly from this bottle of Cuervo Gold so you can go to sleep, so you can wake up, so you can deal with this,'" he says. "Out of all the things that had gone on in my life, that was the thing where finally I went, 'This is no way to live.' I went to rehab 48 hours later."
By then, Lowe was more than ready for his life to head in a different direction.
Lowe was a part of the 1990 erotic thriller Bad Influence, and he'd met Sheryl Berkoff on set. At that point, he knew he had something special with her. He felt "seen" for the first time in his life. "I had the feeling that if I was ever going to be able to make it work with anybody, it was Sheryl," he says. "Alcohol and drugs were only going to make that next to impossible."
The two married in 1991 and welcomed sons Matthew in 1993 and John Owen two years later.
"I'm happy I lived the life that I lived because I have no regrets, but I was super ready to coach Little League, carve pumpkins on Halloween, read books and serve hot lunch on Wednesdays," says Lowe, who will celebrate 32 years of sobriety in May 2022. "I really, really loved every minute of it."
Over time, Lowe has worked hard to create a life of personal and professional balance. "Up until I turned 26, I spent all my time investing in my career," he says. "From 26 on, I've invested in me; my spirituality, my recovery, my marriage, my family. A lot of it has been, excuse me, f—ing hard. And no one has a perfect life... but I'm grateful for all of it."
Cover Image Source: Instagram | Rob Lowe