If, while watching Fox Mulder and Dana Scully’s various jaunts through the realm of the occult, you find yourself thinking, “Wow, I wish Rob Lowe and his adult children could do this, too,” A&E’s The Lowe Files is exactly what the (witch) doctor ordered.
EW’s exclusive first look at the new docuseries (above) teases the actor’s first foray into reality television, fronting a family affair that sees him traversing the country with his sons, Matthew and John Owen, as they probe into a slew of mysterious phenomena — from the exploration of an underwater alien base off the coast of Malibu to working with an esteemed shaman at Preston Castle, a reportedly haunted reformatory for boys — with curiosity, science, and a well-reared sense of humor (and the appropriate amount of skepticism as well).
The Lowe Files premieres its first of nine episodes Wednesday, Aug. 2 on A&E. Watch EW’s exclusive sneak peek at the project above, and read on for our full conversation with its central subject — including a detailed account of his run-in with a wood ape.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Did the idea to do this show always involve your sons?
ROB LOWE: My boys and I were going to do this on our own and film it with our little cameras for a laugh. At one point I said, I bet someone will buy this and put it on the air. We talked about it for years until I had a general meeting with A&E. I told them my boys and I had the idea to hunt urban legends, myths, and monsters [and we decided] to make a show.
You’re also exploring an alien base in the ocean and working with a shaman at an abandoned boys’ reformatory. Is the show going to be as delightfully out-there as those scenarios sound?
[Laughs]. Any time the phrase “Rob Lowe investigates wood apes” is in the zeitgeist, you know you’re in for a special treat. [These are] really cool, interesting, outrageous, literally unbelievable stories being investigated. If you put Anthony Bourdain in a blender with Scooby Doo, you’d get the tone of this show.
I grew up watching Leonard Nimoy’s In Search Of… I loved it. People always ask me what my guilty pleasure is on television, and my guilty pleasures are Ancient Aliens and Finding Bigfoot. I don’t hate-watch them, but I also don’t watch them as a total believer. I watch them hoping to believe, because a world in which Bigfoot exists and aliens exist, to me, is more interesting and fun. That’s the spirit of our show.
Did this show make you more of a believer?
Based on my experiences on the show, particularly around ghosts — absolutely. We captured some incredible [footage]. Our first episode is about poltergeists in one of the most notoriously haunted structures in America. Nothing is staged, nothing is trick-cut — no B.S. I believe there are probably ghosts out there. The rest of [what we found I accepted on a] case-by-case basis, but we had an incredible encounter with what locals call the wood ape, which is in the Ozark Mountains. I’m fully aware that I sound like a crazy, Hollywood kook right now.
Were you genuinely terrified?
Genuinely terrified? I was lying on the ground thinking I was going to be killed.
What exactly is a wood ape?
A wood ape is the local vernacular for a Sasquatch or a Bigfoot. This is what I love about our show. We have fun with all of this. We hit the bullseye between true believer and skeptic in a fun way. [The locals] talk to you about the wood ape in all seriousness. If you call it a Bigfoot or a Sasquatch, they roll their eyes… as if that makes it less outrageous. I don’t want to set up something we don’t deliver on all the time, because if everybody could go out and get great results on all of this, these stories and mysteries would all be solved. Some episodes we had incredible results, and others we just had incredible adventures, and that’s what’s great about it. It’s a case of the journey being as entertaining and fun as the destination.
How many episodes before we get to see the wood ape!?
Sadly for you, my good friend, the wood ape is in the one-hour season finale.
Tease that moment for me! Take me back to everything you remember.
We’re 100 miles from the nearest town. We spent 45 minutes on the most rugged, brutal mountain trails. It’s 1 in the morning. There are a lot of serious former military men with loaded weapons, then something starts approaching our camps that is defying their orders to stop and their warnings that [they were] armed.
Do we finally get to see what this thing is?
I don’t want to oversell as a results-oriented show, although we have incredible results. It’s [instead] a father-son, guy, bro adventure. It’s bittersweet, funny, silly… that opening I did all myself. I think it gives you a good sense of the tone. It’s nostalgic, bittersweet, and a badass adventure.
What was the dynamic like between you and your boys on the road?
Particularly in today’s climate, it’s great to be reminded of our similarities, so that element of the show I love. People will see their own family dynamic played out here. There are times I’m able to impart some wisdom to my boys, there are times they’re able to give me a totally different perspective. People don’t spend enough time creating memories. When it’s all done, that’s all we’re left with. Not our money, not our awards, just the memories we’ve created, and this show speaks to that.We were able to carve out times from our busy lives. We put it all on hold every weekend for eight weeks and did this together, and now we have these memories together.
That’s so sweet. I’m glad you had that experience. Anything else you want to add?
I’m excited to see this blow out [online] and see people be like, “Rob Lowe lost his mind!”
I do have to mention something about the wood ape.
Are you kidding me? Yes! [Laughs] We have a whole bit in that episode: Any time you can say “wood ape,” you’re way ahead of the game in life.