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Rob Lowe continues his political acting career in 'Knife Fight'

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Still from the upcoming political thriller, "Knife Fight," starring Rob Lowe, Jamie Chung and Richard Schiff.
IFC Films
Still from the upcoming political thriller, "Knife Fight," starring Rob Lowe, Jamie Chung and Richard Schiff.

Actor Rob Lowe joins the show to talk about his penchant for political roles, his newest film 'Knife Fight,"

Actor Rob Lowe seems to have politics in his blood. He grew up near the nation's capitol,  raised money for George McGovern's campaign when he was just a kid, and famously campaigned for Michael Dukakis in his twenties.

So perhaps it comes as no surprise that he's comfortable playing roles with a political bent. Of course he's well-known as White House Communications Director Sam Seaborn in "The West Wing," and you can currently see him Thursday nights on NBC as the acting city manager of the fictional town of Pawnee in "Parks and Recreation."

His latest big-screen role is as star political strategist Paul Turner in the new film, “Knife Fight.” Directed by Bill Guttentag, the films is written by Chris Lehane, political director of the 1992 Clinton-Gore campaign and a well-known political "fixer" known colloquially as the "Master of the Political Dark Arts."

Rob Lowe joins the show from the studios of NPR West in Culver City, California.

Interview Highlights:

On whether he would ever run for office:
"It would be fun to find a way to serve my country, because it's given all of us so much, our country has. I'm sort of unabashed about that, that's why I've always related to the West Wing because it was so earnest, it wasn't trying to be hip or ironic about love of country. But I'm a disappearing breed, I'm a centrist, there are no centrists left, they're all drummed out. Every time you pick up the paper today you see some statesman who was a dealmaker and a consensus builder retiring from the seats they've held forever. So I don't know if there would ever really be a place for someone like me that looks to where our common interests are first, before where our disagreements are to try and get things done." 

On why someone would want to be a political fixer:
"In my life I have been fortunate enough to be up close and personal with people on every end of the political spectrum. I've met everyone from Clarence Thomas to Karl Rove… and what I've learned is no matter what your political affiliations, truly, these people are in it because they are patriots and the underlying message of "Knife Fight," is that the ends justify the means. I'm not sure if I agree with it. Paul Turner, my character, is a patriot, but he will do some stuff that would raise a few eyebrows in service of his country.

On working with Chris Lehane:
"Chris's energy was something that I was struck by. I drink a lot of espresso, he makes me look under-caffeinated. In playing somebody like that was going to be really fun for me to do. Chris had so many great war stories that he was able to share with me about 11th hour shenanigans. A lot of which made their way into the script, which is why I loved it when I read it."

On the 1988 sex tape incident at the Democratic National Convention:
"I always consider myself a trailblazer, and perhaps I should have waited a decade when people made money off their sex tapes. The Democratic convention, to the extent I could remember it, those were the days when I was drinking. I'm 22 years sober now, but who's counting. It was fun, I was a young kid and those were the days when you would see the most senior-serving member of the senate crawling on his hands and knees through the bar drunk. We can't do that anymore, we have Twitter, and we have cell phone camera and we have a 24-hour news cycle. But there was a time when you partied as hard as you served. That was a very, very, very different time."

On how "literally" became his TV catchphrase on "Parks and Recreation":
"First of all let me say just how excited I am just to have a catchphrase. I've been in this business 30 years and I've never had a "Whatchu talking 'bout Willis?" Or any of the great phrases of television have eluded me prior to Chris Trager. Like all of the great catchphrases, they happen organically, it wasn't written to be a catchphrase, it was just a word in a sentence, and I said it in a way that made people laugh…literally, now in the episode we're doing, I literally say that line, literally in every scene."

On what attracted him to "Knife Fight":
The script was really funny, it was co-written by Chris Lehane who is one of the leading political fixers, so it felt really authentic to me and felt like what really does go on behind the curtain where the professionals come in and run these campaigns and do whatever needs to be done to win."

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