Chad Lowe recalls the fallout from walking off his hit show Spencer at 15 years old
Mike Pont / Getty Images; Everett Collection
Actor Chad Lowe has never really discussed his experience of leaving the Spencer show and the subsequent lawsuit that NBC sparked at that moment. However, he did so recently during an appearance on the podcast "At Home With the Creative Coalition".
"It's a part of my life that I've never really talked about for a number of reasons," Lowe said in the episode that debuted on Monday. "First of all, I couldn't make peace with it. For a long time, it was really hard for me to know that I was willingly leaving my own sitcom, my own television show."
Spencer was created by Sy Rosen and was a sitcom that premiered in 1984. Lowe played the title Spencer Winger, a student who is constantly getting into teenage hijinks. Lowe left the series in 1985 after just six episodes, and the show was retooled as Under the Roof, with actor Ross Harris taking the lead role.
"I'm a 14-year-old 15-year-old who believes I am an adult in an adult world and make money as the face of a show that is moderately billed as a success," Lowe recalled on the podcast. "It was way, way too much, too fast for me. I can now say that in retrospect at 52. I wasn't aware of it then."
His mother, Barbara Hepler, who he says is "a kind of laissez-faire" about his acting, would tell him to stop doing something when he was no longer happy to do it. "And so I walked away from this show ... I had no idea how big it was [going from a show] at the time," he said. "I can see now how big it was."
"It was called Spencer and I played Spencer. I know there are so many consequences," he later added. "I mean, I'm a kid at the time, so I'm selfish and self-centered. I don't have parental guidance ... At the time, I knew in a deep part of myself that I was in a very difficult situation in this one Dude was the bad trail of running a sitcom, and it wasn't going to lead me on a very healthy path. Enough to have the courage to go and get out of my contract. I got sued of course, and in fact there was a final verdict on the lawsuit based on a technical way in which the contract was drawn up. "
An NBC representative did not immediately respond to EW's request to comment on Lowe's testimony and the earlier lawsuit against the actor.
After leaving the show, Lowe recalled threats that he would never work as an actor again.
"I remember thinking, 'OK, if I never want to act again or continue this sitcom, I will never act again,'" he said.
Lowe mentioned that about eight months after Spencer, when he returned to high school, he got a role in a play called Blue Denim. The opportunity reminded him of his love of acting "and the kind of acting" he wanted to do.
"That re-ignited the spark," he said. "My manager stayed with me [after Spencer] and said, 'See, we can try to re-submit you for other opportunities and other jobs that arise.' And I said, 'Yeah, let's get started.' "
Lowe later starred alongside Donald Sutherland in the 1988 horror film Apprentice to Murder and alongside Patrick Bergin in Highway to Hell from 1991. He has since appeared in films such as Unfaithful and Entourage, as well as in shows such as 24 and Supergirl.
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