Rob Lowe on Dog Gone and Working with the Daniel Day-Lewis of Dogs

In Netflix’s Dog Gone, actor, producer, and podcast host Rob Lowe plays John Marshall, a father who finds himself on an “epic quest” when his family dog turns up missing. Inspired by a true story, Dog Gone tells the heartwarming and miraculous tale of a father and his son who begin a journey across the Appalachian trail in search of Gonker, the family dog.

Along the way, they begin to mend their tense relationship, sharing a hope that they’ll be able to track their lost dog down, against all odds. When their story gets picked up by a local columnist, and eventually goes international, their determination touches those around them, inspiring others to aid their mission to bring Gonker home. Dog Gone also stars Kimberly Williams-Paisley, Johnny Berchtold, Susan Gallagher, and Al Mitchell.


With this family-friendly adventure now available to stream on Netflix, Crumpa’s Steve Weintraub was able to speak with Lowe about the movie. During his interview, Lowe discusses what drew him to the script for Dog Gone, how difficult it is to hit the “bullseye” on feel-good movies, and what it was like working with the Daniel Day-Lewis of dogs. He also talks about his podcast Literally!, why Saturday Night Live is important to his career, how streaming has affected movies and television, Tommy Boy, and which of his roles was the hardest to let go. For all of this and more, you can check out the video in the player above, or read the full transcript below.

Crumpa: So you have a podcast called Literally! and you’ve had to book guests, and I’m just curious, who made you work the hardest to get them on your podcast?

ROB LOWE: Very good question. Very good. Well, the ones who are making me work the hardest are the ones who are still not on the podcast. I’ve been chasing Bruce Springsteen, but you know what? I’m going to give it up to Howard Stern. He got Bruce. They’re either really, really, really difficult, or they’re really, really, really… Robert Downey Jr’s proving very difficult, and he’s an old friend. I’m going to have to have stern words with him when I get him on the podcast. Look, Iron Man right behind you. You have an Iron Man. Yeah, it’s Robert Downey Jr. Let’s go with that answer. Most difficult.

Image via Netflix

I will say that Howard Stern is an amazing interviewer, but I’m going to say that he gets to cheat because he gets like five hours with people. I’m joking about the time. He’s so good at his job, but he also gets so much time with people.

LOWE: He does, and in theory we have as much as we want. We don’t do that much. I find that about 43 minutes to an hour are the sweet spot for our interviews, I think.

I agree with you. You have had an amazing career in Hollywood, but if someone has never seen anything you’ve done, what is the first thing you want them watching, and why?

LOWE: Depends on how old they are. If they’re super young, and I’m super blessed to have fans of all ages, so teenagers should watch The Outsiders. But if you’re going to watch The Outsiders, make sure it’s The Outsiders: The Complete Novel, not The Outsiders. College-age folks should watch Parks and Recreation. If it’s date night, you should watch About Last Night movie. If you’re in for a thriller, watch Bad Influence, and got to watch The West Wing. Got to watch Tommy Boy.

Of course. This is what I’m talking about. When I was given the chance to talk with you, I’m like, « Of course I’m going to f’in do this. » You’ve been in so many things that I love, but another thing is that it is very hard for anyone to be in one successful show in Hollywood, and yet you’ve been in a few. Parks and Rec, West Wing as you mentioned, recently 9-1-1: Lone Star. What is it like? Have you ever thought about playing the lottery? Because it’s really hard to do what you’re doing.

LOWE: I feel like I have been playing the lottery, and doing okay. Yeah, I’m so fortunate. I don’t know if you would have told me when I started out as a young actor that it would turn out the way it has, I would’ve believed it. I’m just super grateful, and I think a lot of it is I have a good picker. I think I know a good story when I read it. I try to work with people who I admire. You’re always going to be funny when you’re with Amy Pohler, or Chris Farley, or David Spade, and you’re always going to make a good drama when you’re working with Ryan Murphy and Tim Minear. So, it’s a combination of things and there’s also a little bit of luck.

Oh no, completely. I’ve had this conversation with people. People don’t realize you can have an amazing script and it doesn’t work on the screen, and other times you might have something that’s only okay, and all of a sudden it’s this amazing movie.

LOWE: You absolutely never know. You never know. You know when you have something good, but somehow you can fumble the bag as the kids like to say. We knew making West Wing we were making something special. When we were making Tommy Boy, we had no idea that it would become what it’s become.

I had a conversation with Jonah Hill the other day, who I think is an amazing actor and super funny, and I was like, « Tell me what movies you like. » He’s like, « Well, my favorite movie of all time is Tommy Boy. » I said, « Ha ha ha, that’s really nice. » He goes, « No. My favorite movie of all time is Tommy Boy. » I was like, « Wait a minute. You worked with Martin Scorsese. You’re telling me Tommy Boy is your favorite? » You just never know.

tommy boy rob lowe
Image via Paramount Pictures

It also could be when he watched it in his life, might have been one of those things.

LOWE: Yeah, for sure. It’s always about what you see and when you see it. That’s a big thing. You’re absolutely right.

Jumping into why I get to talk to you today, what was it about [Dog Gone’s] story and script that said, I want to do it besides getting paid to play with a dog?

LOWE: Well, being paid to play with a dog is a great way to run your career. Let’s just be real. I know actors who pick their movies– Adam Sandler picked his… He was like, « Where do I want a vacation? I’m going to set my movie there. » So, that kind of stuff goes into it.

But really, I love a good dog movie. I love a tear-jerker. I love a movie that’s going to make you cry, just as a film-goer. The father/son dynamic gets me every time, whether it’s on the super serious Ordinary People, or Great Santini, or something like this, [there’s] something about families that I really respond to. This had all three of them.

Also, there’s something nice to be making something life-affirming and heartwarming. Everyone enjoys these kinds of films.

LOWE: For sure, and they’re super hard to do. To hit that bullseye of feel-good is really, really hard to do, and this movie I think really does it. It’s something everybody can watch. To sit with any age group, people from any walk of life, and everybody is going to have the same reaction is really, really rare. I’ve seen how people react to this movie, and it just delivers. I think mostly it’s because the dog is so great. He’s a great actor. He’s the Daniel Day-Lewis of dog actors.

When I think of dog movies. I just think of John Wick 3 with Halle Berry and the dogs and what they did. Completely different acting, obviously.

LOWE: Very different. That’s more stunt performing, but this is more emotive. It’s my left paw.

It’s very good. The movie’s obviously playing on Netflix. Is it nice to not have to worry about the opening weekend box office?

LOWE: Yeah. Listen, I love that there’s not that kind of pressure on a movie, on any movie. I love being on Netflix for that reason. Everybody’s going to see it. Everybody watches Netflix. Everybody’s going to see it and you know that, and that’s great. I’m super excited. It’s a perfect home for this.

dog gone rob lowe
Image via Netflix

I absolutely agree. Are you a dog or a cat person, and has it changed through your life?

LOWE: It has changed through my life. I started as a cat person. I had two cats, and then my first son was Class 5 allergies to cats. So, that was the end of cats. Then we got dogs, and we’ve always had dogs ever since. I have four dogs right now. I have Daisy, Oscar, Owen, and Bella.

Who is the one that begs the most at the table for food?

LOWE: All of them, but they all have different styles. They realize that not all of them can just blatantly beg. I have one that kind of poses in the corner in hopes that you’ll notice. I have one that hits me with the paw, and I have one that sits a good little dog. So, they all have their different acts, but they all just want the bacon.

Because of my schedule, we have cats, and it is interesting how each one begs a different way.

LOWE: Yeah, for sure. Cats are the best. They’re like, “I love you. Maybe I don’t love you.” They give love, and then they withhold love, and it’s very compelling.

Without a doubt. You’ve done so many different roles. I’m going to jump backwards, actually. When did you think that you could make it as an actor and pay rent with just acting?

LOWE: Well, I was super lucky that I never had to face that because I started acting when I was living at home. That’s a big thing. It’s not to be overlooked. It’s a big deal for actors to go, « Can I support myself? » I never had to do that because I started acting professionally at 13. So, I was bringing in money while I had a roof over my head, although I did have a period from 15 to 18 where I didn’t work. I thought I was going to be a flash in the pan, and I had to figure out what I was going to do with my life. I decided I was going to go to law school, and I applied to college, and I did all those things. On my 18th birthday I got The Outsiders, and so the rest was history.

Definitely have to touch on Wayne’s World and how that came in your life, because that was a big role for you at the time.

LOWE: Oh yeah. I grew up watching Saturday Night Live. Everything I knew about comedy I learned from SNL. I got to host it three times, and it was my relationship with Lorne Michaels through hosting that got me in Wayne’s World, because Mike [Myers] and Dana [Carvey] had never done a movie. Mike and Dana didn’t even know that there were marks on the floor that you stood, so the camera could record you because they don’t have those on SNL. They were really green. So I remember Lorne saying to have somebody who knew what a movie was was going to be important. Then that started my relationship with Mike, and that led to, of course, the Austin Powers movies. Then my continued relationship with Lorne led to Tommy Boy. So, that little SNL corner of my career is something I’m really proud of because I love just being a part of that legacy, even in the small part that I am.

If someone has never seen your episodes of SNL, is there one sketch you are particularly proud of?

LOWE: Yeah, I think when I play Arsenio Beckman is pretty funny. I love that one. Geez. There’s the church lady one, “Sprockets.” I remember meeting Mike Myers and him going, « Do you want to do “Wayne’s World,” or do you want to do ‘Sprockets’? » I was like, « I want to do ‘Sprockets’ » because it was just so weird. But they were all really good. I’m super proud of those SNLs. Sometimes you just get lucky, and those are three really strong episodes.

waynes world rob lowe
Image via Paramount Pictures

You’ve obviously done, again, many, many roles. What do you think was the hardest one that you prepped for? What was the most you prepped for one of your roles, and which role was the hardest for you to let go of after filming wrapped?

LOWE: For sure the hardest was Stephen King’s The Stand. I played Nick Andros, who can’t hear, can’t speak. I had to learn American Sign Language. Because I had no dialogue in the entire miniseries, you’ve got to find… It just required a lot of work. That, for sure, was the hardest.

I think letting go when I was done, there are characters you want to just… I wish I could be Eddie Nero from Californication in my real life. I just love that character so much because it’s so outrageous, but I also think Chris Traeger in Parks and Rec is very similar to me and I can feel myself falling into my Chris Traeger patter from time to time. I literally can feel it happening.

I definitely want to touch on Parks and Rec because I love that show. Because when it was on, it was popular, but it wasn’t the way… It became more [popular] with streaming. Have you noticed the power of streaming with that show specifically?

LOWE: Oh, in Parks and Rec for sure. It was never a hit, and it’s become what it’s become because people caught up with it because of streaming. If streaming wasn’t around, Parks and Rec would not be what it is today. But even The West Wing, which obviously was a hit, continues to have an audience today that weren’t even alive when it came out because of streaming. So, I love streaming because it used to be if you did something that you liked, it was gone forever. If you didn’t have the DVD or VHS, you were out of luck. Now you could find almost anything.

I did a show called The Grinder that is my favorite comedy I’ve ever been in. I’m going to say it again. The Grinder. My favorite comedy I’ve ever been in. One season on Fox and was done, but you can get it on, I think, Hulu, and I love that people can still find it. Streaming’s great for that.

Dog Gone is now available to stream on Netflix.

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