Rob Lowe Turned Down Patrick Dempsey's Grey's Anatomy Role and Four More Love Life Book Revelations

Parks and Recreation star opens up about Amy Adams, Warren Beaty and more stars in his second memoir

By Zach Johnson Mar 18, 2014 6:02 PMTags
Patrick Dempsey, Greys Anatomy, Rob LoweRandy Holmes/Disney General Entertainment Content via Getty Images; Todd Williamson/Getty Images

Rob Lowe left no page unturned in his 2011 memoir, Stories I Only Tell My Friends. And yet, the 50-year-old Brat Pack member managed to dig up new dirt for his second book, Love Life. E! News has mined the 272-page tome and discovered five standout anecdotes from the West Wing actor's past.

Love Life, published by Simon & Schuster, is available on Tuesday, Apr. 8.

1. He turned down a major role on Grey's Anatomy.

It's hard to imagine anyone other than Patrick Dempsey playing Dr. Derek Shepherd on Grey's Anatomy, but as it turns out, he wasn't the McDreamy casting directors had in mind: Lowe was.

Lowe he was once offered the role that reinvigorated Dempsey's career—but he turned it down to star in another series, CBS' Dr. Vegas. That little-watched drama was canceled after five episodes in 2004.

"After a week of negotiating, my deal was done, although not yet signed. It was then that I got an urgent call from the producers of a potential new show for ABC called Grey's Anatomy," Lowe recalls. "I agreed to meet with the people making Grey's Anatomy. I had read it and loved it—the writing was crisp, real and very entertaining—and it's always been a good idea to hear out talented people."

"'We would be thrilled if you would play Dr. Derek Shepherd,' they said right off the bat. I was torn," the About Last Night star writes. "Grey's was a much better script; in fact, there was no comparison."

Lowe gambled on Dr. Vegas, which also starred Amy Adams, Sarah Lancaster and Tom Sizemore. "Year after year after year, all of ABC's new dramas flopped. CBS was on a hot streak that continues to this day," he writes. "Although Grey's was a much better script, I chose Dr. Vegas. The odds were just too stacked." Ironically, he later appeared in another ABC show, Brothers & Sisters, from 2006 to 2010.

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2. He believed in Amy Adams when no one else did.

Dr. Vegas was a failure, but it gave Lowe the opportunity to work with a future Golden Globe winner. "For the part of my nurse and will-they-or-won't-they love interest, we all agreed on Amy Adams after seeing her in Catch Me If You Can. Clearly she was a substantive actress, beautiful (but not in a TV way) and very, very smart. And together she and I had the one thing you can't fake: chemistry," he recalls.

Lowe was told Adams was "not sexy enough to be the love interest," which he didn't agree with. "Sarah Lancaster, a beautiful and kind twentysomething, became the show's last lead part," he says.

Simon & Schuster

3. His dad introduced him to alcohol around age 5.

Long before Lowe got sober in1990, his dad gave him a taste of his first adult beverage.

"I'm fairly positive I knew it wasn't 'pop,' as we called soda, or a glass of milk with ice, which was the drink we usually shared on hot summer nights watching the lightning bugs from the screened-in porch. It was beer, probably Stroh's, as a few years later that brand would become my favorite. In a move that I've come to know says so many things about my temperament, I didn't gingerly explore this new beverage with a dainty sip; I took a full swig. I practically chugged it. Although today I know why, then I did not. I remember it tasting both terrible and amazing. Then I vomited all over our living room floor."

4. He encouraged Tom Sizemore to seek treatment for drug abuse.

The actors worked together on Dr. Vegas, and they kept in touch after the show was canceled. At one point, Lowe recalls, "My cell phone went off in the middle of the night. It was Tom. He was crying, screaming and wailing in a way that sounded in human. He hadn't said a word and already I was scared. I tracked Tom down, threw him in my Suburban and drove him to a drug rehab."

Lowe adds, "I didn't know what the fallout would be, but Tom needed help, and fast."

Sizemore went to rehab several times, and each time, Lowe had the actor's back. "I would visit and listen as he told his wild stories, wearing a do-rag, hiding behind those mirrored aviators. Ultimately he was a man who simply could not or would not get honest with himself. Folks who can't almost never get sober," the TV star writes. "But I pray his day will come. And I will be there for him when it does."


5. Warren Beatty gave him relationship advice at the beginning of his career.

Before he got his big break in 1983, Lowe and his then-girlfriend bonded with Beatty.

As luck would have it, the notorious lothario gave Lowe some relationship advice. "'I started young like you and was dating an actress more famous than I was, just like you,'" Lowe, then 18, recalls being told. "'Natalie Wood?'" Lowe's love asked, hoping to be compared to the Rebel Without a Cause star.

"Exactly" Beatty said, according to Lowe. "She was a big deal and I wasn't, but I had a huge movie about to come out in Splendor in the Grass and I knew my life was going to change. Like you, Rob, when The Outsiders comes out." When Beatty later told Lowe's girlfriend that she did indeed remind him of Wood, the future Wayne's World star remembers thinking, "'There it is. The lay-down hand. The line that would turn any young actress into his personal concubine for life.'"

"It's funny," Beatty told the couple. "Natalie was always getting asked by Frank Sinatra to come up to his house and lay by the pool. I never paid much attention to it, but years later, just a few days before Natalie died, I asked her, 'Hey, we're both adults now, what exactly were you doing all those days at Sinatra's? And she looked at me right in the eyes and said, 'Oh Warren, what do you think we were doing? We were f--king!' Isn't that funny?" Lowe looked at his girlfriend, who was ashen faced.

"Thanks for the heads-up, Warren Beatty," Lowe writes. "You're my hero to this day."