Chad Lowe Recalls Walking Off a TV Sitcom as a Teen and Being Told He'd Never Work Again

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Chad Lowe is opening up about his decision to walk off his NBC Sitcom, Spencer, when he was just 15 years old. The actor told The Creative Coalition CEO, Robin Bronk, on the latest episode of At Home With The Creative Coalition podcast, that he had no idea "how big it was" to walk off a show at the time.

"I’m a 14-turning-15-year-old kid, who thinks he’s an adult, in an adult world making money as the face of a show that is moderately billed as a success. It was way, way too much, too quick for me. I can say that now in hindsight at 52, I can say that’s what was happening," Lowe admitted. "At the time, I was not aware of it. You know, my mother, who was kind of laissez-faire about my ventures as an actor, she said, ‘Well, if you’re not happy then don’t do it anymore.’ And so I walked off that show… I had no idea at the time how big it was [to walk off a show]. I now recognize how big it was. At the time, I had no idea. I ended up getting sued by NBC."

Lowe went on to reveal that he's never really talked about his exit from Spencer and the fallout that ensued.

"You know, I’ve never really talked about this, actually. It’s a part of my life that I’ve never really talked about for a number of reasons. One, I haven’t been able to make peace with it. For a long time, it’s really been hard on me -- knowing that I willingly walked off of my own sitcom, my own television show. It was called ‘Spencer’ and I played Spencer. I know there are so many ramifications from that. I mean, at the time, I’m a kid so I’m selfish. I’m selfish and self-centered. I’m 14 and I don’t have the parental guidance," the actor said as he reflected on that time in his life.

Lowe went on to say he saw a dark road ahead of him if he continued on the show. "At the time, I knew in my, in some deep part inside me, knew that I was on a very bad track being the lead of a sitcom at that age and it was not going to lead me down a very healthy road," he said. "Enough so that I had the courage to leave and to option out of my contract. I was, of course, sued and actually there was a summary judgement on the suit because of a technicality in the way in which the contract was drawn up."

Lowe was told he'd never work again after leaving the NBC sitcom, but has since starred in films like Unfaithful and hit shows, ER, Entourage, Supergirl and many more.

"I literally remember thinking -- the threats were, ‘You’ll never work again. You will never be an actor again.’ And I remember thinking, ‘Okay. If this is what it means, if my choice is never act again or continue on this sitcom, well then I’ll never act again,'" Lowe recalled.  

Just eight months later, Lowe was back on stage in a high school play that reminded him of why he got into acting in the first place.

"I did a play about eight months later, I was in high school and I got a play, a play called Blue Denim... It reminded me of my love of acting and the kind of acting that I wanted to be doing. So that kind of lit the spark again," he said. "I think I had a manager, my manager stayed with me, I had the same manager. And he said, ‘Look, we can try to start submitting you again for other opportunities and other jobs that come up.’ And I said, ‘Yeah, let’s go for it.’” 

In addition to his long list of acting credits, Lowe went on to win an Emmy for taking on the ground-breaking role of an HIV-positive character on the late '80s series, Life Goes On. While he called it his "most satisfying" part he's played, he didn't attend the awards show and now lists it as one of his biggest regrets.

“I was nominated for an Emmy for Best Supporting Actor [in Life Goes On] and ended up winning the Emmy for Best Supporting Actor, but I was not there at the Emmys. There’s another regret." Lowe revealed. "Because I’m a serious actor, because I don’t act for awards. So that’s what I’m thinking. Now remember, Martin Sheen being my mentor removed his name from consideration when he starred in ‘Apocalypse Now.' If I was ever nominated again, God willing, I’d be the first person in line."

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