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Beverly Hills, Calif. • At least two dozen actors have played President John F. Kennedy on TV and in the movies, and Rob Lowe joins that list in "Killing Kennedy," which will air in November on the National Geographic Channel.
And he insists he's not intimidated to portray not only a real person, but a real person who's been portrayed so many times before.
"You just try to figure what can you individually bring," Lowe said. "And for me, it was very much about capturing him as a man. We all know the iconography of Kennedy. I was really interested in the details of what he was like as a father, as a brother, as a son, as a husband, as a flawed, complicated, and heroic guy, where those small details live."
Here are a few of Lowe's other thoughts on the 35th president and portraying him:
- Lowe said he wanted to inhabit JFK, not imitate him.
"I'm not Darrell Hammond from 'Saturday Night Live,' right? I mean, if you want a guy who can imitate Kennedy, I'm not the guy you come to. Hopefully, I'm the guy who embodies and fleshes out and makes him a real human being, and that's really the job.
"But you've got to sound like him. He spoke the way he spoke. … I immersed myself in it. But then you forget about it. You do the voice, and you go to the things that are more important, which are honesty, authenticity, connection with the actors. You know, all of the stuff that actors do on a daily basis."
- The actor said he is "just a fan and have been my entire life." He referenced "Camelot" as both "the sort-of romanticized version of it and the sort-of Jacques Lowe black and white photograph world, but also the sort of geopolitical, you know, 'West Wing' nerd part of myself. So I come to it already into it."
- Lowe said he shares at least one trait with JFK.
"He was an optimist. He said we'll put a man on the moon in 10 years. I can't think of any president before or after who would dare make that kind of prediction and then live up to it.
"I'm a kid from Ohio who said I wanted to be a working actor. You know, I believe in optimism. I think that's probably the thing we share."
- Lowe said he could relate to some of what JFK went through.
"On my very first day [of shooting], I had to do this scene where Jackie and I shared the loss of our son Patrick. And I have two sons, and they are the most important things to me. I've built my world around that. And Jack was and the Kennedys are and continue to be very much about family and family first for better or ill. So I did that did resonate with me for sure."
- And JFK resonated with all the other chief executives of the past half century.
"Every President today talks like him. They all just are bad actors who found the greatest one who ever was and do their variation of that performance, every single one of them. And I don't want to call any of them out by name, but if we were to meet in the corner, I could imitate every President's version of their version of imitating President Kennedy because he was the man."
Lowe is also a recovered conspiracy theorist.
"I've been following the Kennedy assassination since I was in the first or second grade and read every conspiracy theory book known to man. I've read all of them. And I actually started off as a guy who thought there's no way a [lone] guy could do it, and I've come around to thinking that they got it right. That [Lee Harvey] Oswald did act alone. That's my personal belief."
-Lowe was born the year JFK was assassinated, and he hopes "Killing Kennedy" helps remind people of his legacy.
"This will be the 50th anniversary, and I could not be prouder to be with these people to try to reintroduce people who might not know the details of what it meant to this country to lose him."