In person, Rob Lowe looks exactly like he does on screen: a handsome, charming, and self-confident gentleman. During the launch of his new line of high-performing grooming products for men at Nordstrom, the star of The Grinder posed for numerous selfies, signed autographs on fragrance bottles and copies of his book Love Life — always smiling and gracious. But behind those playful blue eyes is a savvy businessman. His company — PROFILE — was created to fill a big void in a booming market. The new fragrance has strong notes of blue sage, bergamot, and sandalwood. It was developed for the “red-carpet moments in a man’s life,” and it smells like it: rich, sophisticated, and definitely masculine. Very personable and sincere, Lowe spoke to 425 about what’s behind a fragrance name and how girls have all the fun when it comes to cosmetics.
Q: Let’s start by asking what everyone is probably already asking you: (Your fragrance) 18 Amber Wood. What’s behind such an unusual name?
A: Like everything in the PROFILE line, there is a very specific reason. I wanted our debut fragrance to be bold, sexy, and make a statement. For the red-carpet moments in a man’s life. For me it might actually be a red-carpet, but for another man it could be the job interview. Or the date. And 18 is when I was on my first red-carpet — I was 18 years old, that’s where the 18 comes from: The movie was The Outsiders by Francis Ford Coppola. So I thought it was a fun way to make it have some personal significance. Every other fragrance is like a one-word adjective — “Cool,” “Obsession,” etc.
Q: Speaking of personal, what do you think is the importance of a fragrance to a person’s identity?
A: Look, girls have all the fun. They’ve got make-up, hair, fashion: they have so many different ways to express themselves and to access who they want to be perceived as, and men … don’t have it. So one of the ways we do have that is fragrance. I think that’s really important for a man; it’s a way for us to have fun, a way for us to differentiate who we are. And your scent speaks volumes about you.
Q: You look fantastic. What’s the secret; how can someone look so good at 51?
A: That’s the reason I founded this company — people asked me that all the time. I realized there is a real curiosity and want for knowledge of how to stay timeless, and to stay the best version of yourself. People coming to me for that; it got me thinking I should be sharing my knowledge. All the things in this initial line are the very, very basics every man should be doing. It’s not a lot; it’s very simple, but you can’t expect results without taking some steps. This whole thing just sort of organically came into being from the very question you asked me.
Q: Do you have any ties to the Pacific Northwest?
A: My wife, who was a make-up artist, was doing a movie up here, 27 years ago, and we were just dating. We were driving and reminiscing about how much time we spent here and what we did … my connection here with the PNW reminds me of when I was dating my wife, when we were still trying to figure it out, falling in love, and there is no better place to fall in love than Seattle. It’s a beautiful city.
Q: Between Chris Traeger (Parks and Recreation) and Dean Sanderson (The Grinder) who would be wearing 18 Amber Wood?
A: Ooh … well, let’s face it: Dean Sanderson is on a lot more red-carpets than Chris Traeger. I would say Dean, but listen, Chris is a very forward-thinking man (laughs.) Anything is possible. I was in the airport today, in the escalator coming up, and there was a young woman with a backpack walking up the stairs behind me. She looked at me and went, “Chris Traeger wouldn’t be in an escalator.” (Laughs) It’s amazing.
Q: How do you prepare for a comedic role, since it’s so different for a dramatic actor?
A: I thought a lot about it. And it’s probably different for other people, but for me it is about developing the confidence not to edit yourself and to follow any instinct you have however ridiculous. So, there’s a fearlessness of the great comedians that dramatic actors, frankly, don’t ever have to access.
Q: It’s an excellent fit for you. My family and I are huge fans of Parks and Recreation. Some of our favorite moments are when Chris Traeger appears and speaks his mind. And Dean Sanderson is a completely different person.
A: Thank you. And totally! I was thinking I would never be able to be funny in a way that wasn’t Chris. Because I am so used to playing him, I can just do it and inhabit it. And now I feel that way about Dean. You just live it, you know. And it helps you ad-lib; once you understand the character, everything you say is truthful because you’ve become the character.
Q: You are an actor, a writer, and now you have a new line of amazing products for men. What is next for Rob Lowe?
A: I want to continue to build The Grinder next year, and hopefully we’ll have a second season, and we have a really, really exciting direction to go. I’m going to continue to expand PROFILE. The success it is having with people has been so inspiring. We’re rolling out hair [products] in the next coming months, which is a really big deal, because I’m obsessed with hair. I never met a guy who wasn’t obsessed with hair. I’m really excited because I have been using our hair-thickening gel and hair-thickening paste in prototype now for a couple of years every day, and I cannot wait to share that with guys.
Q: It’s difficult for guys to find the right hair products.
A: I know it is. Yes, I’m obsessed with it. I’ve been experimenting for years with different ones, and I never found the one that was perfect. So, I went and just built it myself.