‘9-1-1: Lone Star’: Chad Lowe on Finally Acting With His Brother Rob Lowe

Rob Lowe as Owen, Chad Lowe as Robert in 9-1-1 Lone Star
Spoiler Alert
Jordin Althaus/FOX

[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for 9-1-1: Lone Star Season 3, Episode 16 “Shift-Less.”]

Captain Owen Strand (Rob Lowe) leaves behind Texas for Los Angeles in the latest 9-1-1: Lone Star to see his dying father (Robert Pine).

But when he’s there, he meets another family member: his half-brother, Robert (Rob Lowe’s brother, Chad Lowe). And so in addition to talking to his father about how he left him and getting somewhat of the closure that he needed, Owen also leaves California with Robert telling him not to be a stranger.

Chad Lowe chats about working with Rob onscreen really for the first time (except for a brief appearance in a film) and teases the next Lone Star episode he’s directing.

How did you appearing on Lone Star come about?

Chad Lowe: In the creation of the storyline for Owen, that he was going to be going back to confront his father, [creator] Tim Minear decided that there was going to be a half-brother that Owen was not aware of. And so the story I heard was that Tim called Rob and said, “I have a crazy idea. What if we cast your brother to play your brother?”

Obviously Rob jumped at it and thought it was a brilliant and inspired idea, and I of course was thrilled and felt it was a long time coming. I think Rob and I both felt it was a long time coming because it’s the first time truly we’ve ever acted in anything together, but for a very small moment in a movie he did called Oxford Blues, where I came in in the last moment and shot a scene that they needed to help explain something in the plot of that film. I did two hours work and I think I’m onscreen in that movie for about four or five seconds, but I don’t really consider that nor does he consider that us really working together. This is the first time that Rob and I have ever acted in anything together.

Rob Lowe as Owen, Chad Lowe as Robert in 9-1-1 Lone Star

Jordin Althaus/FOX

How was that? Because you have worked together with you as a director.

Absolutely. I did Brothers & Sisters with him and I did The Grinder. And then I’m currently directing the third episode of Lone Star that I’ve directed. It was better than I could have even dreamed or imagined. It was truly one of the highlights of my career as an actor. And I say that for a number of reasons, one is he’s just a very good actor and I’ve known that, but I got to experience that kind of intimately in sharing the scenes with him. As an actor, I always equate it to hitting the tennis ball and the better the player you’re playing with, the better it makes you, so he really helped up my game as an actor.

And it was also the history that we share, that all obviously siblings have with one another and it’s a lifetime of memories and it’s a lifetime of all the good, the bad, the in betweens, the triumphs, the tragedies that you share with your family. And so that’s all underneath the surface when we stepped on the set. I didn’t have to do much to create a backstory, let’s just say. All I needed to do was just look in his eyes and I know he felt the same way too, ’cause when we were done, we both just commented on what an incredible experience that was to be able to do that. And we also just thought, “How has this never happened?” So I’m grateful that it did.

Even though it’s three scenes, you can see how the relationship changes throughout them and it’s so clear because of the way you two work together.

Thank you. It’s nice to hear. The writing is always so strong on the show, especially I feel like in these dramatic moments, and you always want subtext and you always want a life underneath the surface. That is really where the magic happens, when people really bring their experience to a role and so they can almost say so much without saying anything. I think we had that obviously just because of our history.

Rob Lowe as Owen, Chad Lowe as Robert in 9-1-1 Lone Star

Jordin Althaus/FOX

Did Robert have any idea who Owen was when they initially met? I rewatched the scenes trying to figure it out because it could go either way.

I have not seen the episode yet. I’m not sure how that’s played out ’cause oftentimes things get a little bit reordered in the final cut, but when we were shooting it, I was under the impression that my character Robert — which also made it even that much more confusing Robert and Robert [Laughs] — was not aware he even existed.

It seems like Robert could have known of Owen’s existence, but maybe not known it was him right away and then figured it out.

Interesting. Like you said, he may have been aware that there was another sibling, but he was not aware in that moment that it was him. And you know, it’s funny ’cause Rob and I, everybody says that — obviously we look somewhat alike — our voices are very similar and it’s been funny when I’m directing sometimes and I’ll call something out and people will think it’s Rob calling something out and vice versa because our voices are so similar, similar enough that when I call our father, I often feel I need to let him know that it’s me because I can tell sometimes he’s trying to figure out, “Which son am I talking to? [Laughs]

Rob Lowe as Owen in 9-1-1 Lone Star

Jordin Althaus/FOX

Do you think we’ll see you onscreen again on Lone Star?

I’m up for it. It would be amazing. I would love that. As you know, with the show, there are incredibly well drawn out characters and great actors playing those characters. So there’s a lot of story to serve. It’s not like they need another storyline, they’ve got plenty of people to serve. But if they wanted me to be involved and it was authentic and it was motivated for Owen to revisit his estranged half-brother, I’d be there in a moment’s notice.

I feel like if he visited Texas though, he’d end up in the middle of a crisis, maybe a fire … How would he handle that?

I will tell you that that last line that I have where he’s walking away and I say, “Hey, Owen, don’t be a stranger.” I was half tempted to improv, “Hey, Owen, I I’m available for future storylines.” [Laughs] … We don’t know much about Robert. He’s kind of this man of mystery and I wonder, too. When Tim called me and said, “Do you want to act?” And I said, “Yeah, absolutely.” I kind of said yes before I knew even what he was proposing.

Then when he said, “You’d be playing Rob’s brother,” I thought, “But who am I? I know this character’s Rob’s estranged half-brother, but what is his background?” Then you ask those questions in wardrobe fittings: “Is this guy middle class, lower class, upper class? Is he blue collar, white collar?” All those things inform the way you dress. It’s all left somewhat vague. So I think there’s a lot of room if the gods would want for my character to come back in any future episodes. There’s a blank slate for what he is, who he is, where he’s come from, and how he might react. All I will say is I’m open to any of it. If Tim Minear is writing it, I’m in. I trust him implicitly.

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You get a little bit of a sense of who this guy is, but like you said, not too much.

Yeah. Does he have kids of his own? What is his job? Is he a first responder? Wouldn’t that be ironic if he turned out to be a first responder as well and it was kind of in the family. Rob’s an actor. I’m an actor. My daughters want to be actors. You just kind of can’t help it when you’re exposed to it. The other thing that was great about the episode is Robert Pine and I did a play together about 40 years ago. I just had such an amazing experience working with him all those years back. I hadn’t seen him since. So seeing him on the set was really incredible. It was very emotional to be on a set where I’m working with my brother for the first time and I’m getting to work with Robert Pine, who I hadn’t worked with for 40 years. It felt very special to me and something that I would definitely treasure and always remember.

You’re directing another episode. What can you say about that one?

I’m doing the penultimate episode for this season and I think it’s when the show is at its best, which is there’s a little bit of everything: You’ve got some humor and we’ve got some personal relationship drama and an unexpected relationship that is very touching and also humorous to a degree. Then of course you’ve got some crazy rescues, some crazy situations people have found themselves in and needing to be rescued and a great storyline with Judd [Jim Parrack] and Wyatt [Jackson Pace] where they start to bond a little more and Judd really decides to step up and really become the father that he perceives that Wyatt needs. And it has unexpected consequences that lead to an event that will then propel us into the season finale.

9-1-1: Lone Star, Mondays, 9/8c, Fox