Chad Lowe recalls the fallout from walking off his hit show Spencer at 15 years old

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Nick Romano
·3 min read
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Mike Pont/Getty Images; Everett Collection

Actor Chad Lowe has never really discussed in-depth his experience walking off of the show Spencer and the subsequent lawsuit that moment incited from NBC. But he did so in a recent appearance on the At Home With the Creative Coalition podcast.

"It's a part of my life that I've never really talked about for a number of reasons," Lowe said on the episode, which debuted on Monday. "One, I haven't been able to make peace with it. For a long time, it's really been hard on me knowing that I willingly walked off of my own sitcom, my own television show."

Created by Sy Rosen, Spencer was a sitcom that premiered in 1984. Lowe starred as the titular Spencer Winger, a high school student constantly getting into teenage hijinks. Lowe then famously left the series in 1985 after just six episodes, and the show was retooled as Under the Roof with actor Ross Harris taking over the lead role.

"I'm a 14-turning-15-year-old kid, who thinks he's an adult in an adult world, making money as the face of a show that is moderately billed as a success," Lowe recalled on the podcast. "It was way, way too much, too quick for me. I can say that now in hindsight at 52. At the time, I was not aware of it."

His mother, Barbara Hepler, whom he says was "kind of laissez-faire" about his acting, would tell him to stop doing something if he was no longer happy doing it. "And so I walked off that show… I had no idea at the time how big it was [to walk off a show]," he said. "I now recognize how big it was."

"It was called Spencer and I played Spencer. I know there are so many ramifications from that," he later added. "I mean, at the time, I'm a kid so I'm selfish and self-centered. I don't have the parental guidance… At the time, I knew in some deep part inside me that I was on a very bad track being the lead of a sitcom at that age, and it was not going to lead me down a very healthy road. Enough so that I had the courage to leave and to option out of my contract. I was, of course, sued and actually there was a summary judgement on the suit because of a technicality in the way in which the contract was drawn up."

A rep for NBC did not immediately respond to EW's request for comment on Lowe's statements and the past lawsuit against the actor.

After leaving the show, Lowe remembered hearing threats that he'd never work again as an actor.

"I remember thinking, 'OK, if my choice is never act again or continue on this sitcom, well then I'll never act again,'" he said.

Lowe mentioned he landed a role in a play called Blue Denim about eight months after Spencer when he had returned to high school. The opportunity reminded him of his love of acting "and the kind of acting" he wanted to do.

"That lit the spark again," he said. "My manager stayed with me [after Spencer], and he said, 'Look, we can try to start submitting you again for other opportunities and other jobs that come up.' And I said, 'Yeah, let's go for it.'"

Lowe later starred opposite Donald Sutherland in the 1988 horror film Apprentice to Murder, and opposite Patrick Bergin in 1991's Highway to Hell. He's since appeared in films like Unfaithful and Entourage, and shows like 24 and Supergirl.

Check out our daily must-see picks — plus news, celeb interviews, trivia, and more — in EW's What to Watch podcast, hosted by Gerrad Hall.

Related content: