“It was a lot of highs and lows,” said John Owen Lowe of his collaboration with his famous father, Rob Lowe, on Netflix’s latest comedy, “Unstable.”
At the show’s premiere Thursday night in Hollywood, the father-son duo spoke to Variety about their unique dynamics – and how the depiction of them on the show isn’t all that different from real life.
John Owen plays Jackson, the son of Ellis Dragon (Rob Lowe) in the comedy at work. Ellis is a headstrong biotech genius who learns he could lose his job when he spirals after his wife’s death. With the company in danger of imploding, his employees look for the only source they think can help him right now: his son.
The Lowes have worked together before. John Owen was a writer for several seasons of Fox’s “9-1-1: Lone Star,” which stars his father. They also starred in “The Grinder,” Netflix’s Christmas movie “Holiday in the Wild,” and the indie “Point of Mercy.”
However, this role is different. According to Netflix’s character description, Jackson is the practical son of Ellis who has managed to stay away from the family business – until his father needs him. His agitation over his father’s eccentric practices emerges as the two are forced to look past their differences in order to save the company.
But according to John Owen, the sarcastic jokes thrown back and forth between the two on and off screen are not an act.
“It’s not a bit, I swear to God it’s not a bit, and it’s really important to me that you know that,” said John Owen. “I see it at home and I think to myself, ‘Okay, this has crossed a threshold. People think this is a bit.’ I’ve been doing this since social media didn’t exist.”
According to the rest of the cast, both parties went back and forth with jokes throughout the season. But according to Rob, it’s all a joke. “I love a good joke, even if it’s at my expense,” he said. “When I got roasted on Comedy Central, it was a highlight and it was mean. I like a good give and take and he has a very good facility for it.
“That’s how I show love and that’s how I keep him humble,” John Owen teased.
Overall, John Owen says being on the show was a “therapeutic” experience for both of them. “We get to hug each other and say ‘I love you’ on this show and we don’t do that very often in real life,” he said. “We have a great relationship, my dad and I, but we’re like best friends. So playing father and son is like adding that missing puzzle piece. He’s a great dad.”
Rob adds: “As a father it was a very proud moment because I got to marvel at his writing skills, which he had since he was in primary school, and his ability to jump into the comedy world against heavyweights like Fred Armisen and standing his ground. As an actor, and especially as a co-producer, creator with him, it’s like having someone who thinks like me, has the same wants and needs as me, like having a second brain on set. That’s super helpful to to have in a partner.