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Why Rob Lowe Keeps Picking Projects About DC

"I spend every waking moment scanning every news outlet."

Catch Lowe's "Stories I Only Tell My Friends: Live!" at the Strathmore on May 11. Photograph courtesy of Strathmore.

Rob Lowe has played a White House communications director on The West Wing and a small-town bureaucrat on Parks and Recreation. But when he hits the stage at Strathmore for his show, “Stories I Only Tell My Friends: Live!,” he’ll be portraying a different kind of personality: himself. We talked to the actor about his one-man show and why he’s drawn to projects that revolve around politics.

Why do a stage production based on your two autobiographies?

When I thought about writing a third book, I decided: Why not go [on tour] and tell the stories? I’m 40-plus years into doing this. It becomes increasingly hard to find ways to scare yourself and challenge yourself. This has been a great way to revitalize that part of me.

You’ve starred in a lot of shows and films set in DC, the first of which was the 1985 movie St. Elmo’s Fire, set at Georgetown University. What do you remember about making it?

Georgetown wouldn’t let us shoot there be-cause they were worried about sullying the reputation. Graciously, the good people at the University of Maryland let us shoot all the sequences there. But I do remember my days on [Georgetown’s streets], walking up and down with that cast and going into the bars watching the Redskins when they were good.

A lot of your projects involve politics, whether it’s Thank You for Smoking, Killing Kennedy, or even Parks and Rec. How come?

It’s where my interest lies. I love current events, even though I hate that term. I spend every waking moment scanning every news outlet on both sides of the spectrum. So I’m inclined to be drawn to those characters. And in that world, there’s a premium on talking, messaging, communicating, storytelling. One of the things I love is dialogue. I love verbal, intelligent characters.

Rob Lowe’s “Stories I Only Tell My Friends: Live!” will show at Strathmore on May 11 ($38 to $88).

This article appeared in the May 2018 issue of Washingtonian.

Courtney Vinopal is a former Washingtonian editorial fellow. She holds a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University, and previously worked as a press attaché for the Embassy of France in Washington, where she ran the institution’s social media accounts and newsletters. She lives in Woodley Park.