'The Grinder' Star Rob Lowe Talks Transitioning From "Pretty Boy" to Funnyman

Lowe dishes on making it in comedy as a dramatic actor and why the 1989 Oscars made for his most embarrassing career moment.

Rob Lowe is done with being labeled a "pretty boy."

During The Hollywood Reporter's Comedy Actor Roundtable, The Grinder star opened up about his frustrations with being typecast early in his career.

"The list is actually kind of long. They didn't want me to play cops or detectives," he said of the narrow range of roles he was offered.

"They just wanted you to play leading men ... love interests ... " joked his former Parks and Recreation co-star Aziz Ansari. But Lowe interjected, "That gets boring!"

On diving into comedy as more of a dramatic actor, Lowe explained, "Because I'm transitioning to [comedy], I have more of a focus on being funny. Like, on The Grinder, we gotta be funny. That was new for me." He added that he first was introduced to the comedy world when he began working with funnymen such as Mike Myers, Chris Farley and David Spade.

Lowe's dramatic background came in handy on the set of his Fox show. "The Grinder opens every episode with an episode of the fake show The Grinder. There are times, I'm telling you, it looks like it's Scandal. It's like we're doing Grey's Anatomy, for sure," he joked. "Every once in a while, the network will be like, 'Will people know that it's funny?' I'm like, 'They'll know.' "

When asked about the most embarrassing moment of his career, Lowe recalled his notorious opening performance at the 1989 Academy Awards.

"The idea was that I would sing and dance with Snow White, while Merv Griffin would then appear, singing 'I've Got a Lovely Bunch of Coconuts,' and all of the old Hollywood establishment — Roy Rogers, Dale Evans — would be acknowledged. And finally, Lily Tomlin would come out of a bunch of fruit. Sounds great, right?" he told THR. But things went haywire when Snow White froze upon seeing Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks in the front row, causing her voice to go up one whole octave and the performance to turn chaotic (Barry Levinson was spotted mouthing, "What the f—?").

To hear Lowe talk more about his Oscars blunder, watch the video above.

More roundtables featuring comedy actresses, drama actresses and actors and reality hosts and producers will roll out throughout June in print and online. Tune in to new episodes of Close Up With The Hollywood Reporter starting June 26 on SundanceTV, with the premiere of the Comedy Actors Roundtable airing on Sunday, July 17. And look for clips at THR.com/roundtables, with full episodes available on THR.com after broadcast.

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