Wild Bill – Rob Lowe Q&A, part two: Cabbage-throwing, British TV, and Premier League football

Rob Lowe as Bill Hixon. Picture: ITV
Rob Lowe as Bill Hixon. Picture: ITV

The Boston-based crime drama Wild Bill is now a little over a week away from our TV screens.

Last week, we ran part one of an interview with star Rob Lowe released as part of a press pack to promote the show.

Here is part two, which includes the actor’s thoughts on throwing cabbages in a muddy Lincolnshire field, his favourite British TV shows, and his first Premier League football game.

* The opening scenes of Wild Bill see Bill throwing cabbages instead of pulling a gun, as he would have done as a cop in America. How was that to film?

“The cabbage throwing was a moment where everybody collectively went, ‘Oh, there’s a show here.’ The notion of me in a tuxedo in the middle of a muddy Lincolnshire field throwing cabbages is definitely an image you are not likely to come across very often.

“It was unbelievable when I realised there is one designated person who gets to carry the gun in the UK. It’s very much a different way of going about things. In terms of the two nations and their policy on guns, it’s apples and oranges and almost impossible to compare.”

Rob Lowe, in the cabbage field - a scene from the promo.

Rob Lowe, in the cabbage field - a scene from the promo.

* Bill is a huge Bruce Springsteen fan. Was that your doing?

“That actually wasn’t. I’m a huge Springsteen fan. He’s my number one guy. I’ve met him a few times and been a fan for a long time. Either somebody did their research on me or guessed very luckily.”

* Last New Year you tweeted, ‘We have more in common than we can ever know’. Does that apply to America and Britain?”

“People are pretty much the same wherever you go. One of the things I love is how embracing of being in the outdoors the British people are. Given half a chance, everyone is out taking a walk, out with their kids, walking their dogs.

The notion of me in a tuxedo in the middle of a muddy Lincolnshire field throwing cabbages is definitely an image you are not likely to come across very often.

“If I had the chance, I would spend my entire life outdoors. That’s one of the many things I really relate to about the English psyche. My hobbies are pretty much all outdoors stuff – surfing, golfing, skiing ... If I have any free time and I can do one of those things, that’s what I’m doing.”

* What are your memories of working in the UK before?

“The first time was Oxford Blues, which I shot in Oxford a hundred million years ago. I did a mini series here called You, Me and The Apocalypse. Then I did six months on the West End stage doing A Few Good Men with Aaron Sorkin.”

* Do you have any favourite British TV shows?

A crop of the image Rob Lowe shared via his Instagram account earlier in the year.

A crop of the image Rob Lowe shared via his Instagram account earlier in the year.

“I’m always amused at how Downton Abbey is perceived here versus the United States. I love that show. I think here in England it’s a little bit of a guilty pleasure, but in the States we just eat it up.

“There is so much good drama coming out of Britain right now. Whether it’s Luther with Idris Elba, Sherlock, Killing Eve or Bodyguard. There’s a great group of shows which I hope Wild Bill will fit right into.”

* Is this an exciting time to be involved in ‘small screen’ drama?

“Maggie Smith, Natasha Richardson and I did a version of Suddenly Last Summer that Richard Eyre directed for the BBC here in the early 1990s. But to get it seen in the United States back then was just a total ordeal. Finally I think it aired on PBS or something like that.

“Today that would be on Netflix or one of the other streaming platforms and everybody would see it. If you’re doing good work, the good news is there are a billion ways for people to see it today.”

* You performed your one-man theatre show ‘Stories I Only Tell My Friends’ while in England for Wild Bill. Why did you decide to do a stage version of your 2011 memoir?

“It’s really an easy way for me to keep that muscle strong. There’s nothing like being able to go out by yourself and command an audience for an evening. Instead of doing my third book, I figured why not write something that I can always have and be able to do that stage show.

“I played Brighton recently. It was sold out and so much fun. The longer you do it, the fewer and fewer things happen where you get to go, ‘Wow, that was really cool’. To sell out the Festival Hall in London with a one-man show felt pretty damn good.”

* As a huge sports fan, did you have time to go to any sporting events in the UK?

“I did. I finally got to see Chelsea play. When I was living here doing A Few Good Men I was always on stage when the matches were being played. So I finally got to go to my first Premier League game and it was amazing. So cool. I also go to the tennis at Wimbledon when I can. I love tennis.”

Are you OK with watching yourself on screen?

“It’s something I’ve been seeing and dealing with since I was 15 years old. It’s as natural to me as walking out in the rain. I know some actors don’t like it. I’m agnostic. I have the ability to separate myself from it. I directed myself in a movie last year. One of the things you really have to do is be dispassionate about your own work.”

* What has your choice of profession as an actor given you in life?

“It’s given me a tremendous perspective on the world. Because I’ve met so many different people, I’ve worked in so many different countries, I’ve played so many different types of people and had to research them and their world.

“So I think more than anything, acting has given me an overview of different perspectives that very few people get to have.

“What I think actors do more than anything else is they understand the truth better than most people. Because the number one job an actor has is to be truthful. There are a lot of times if you don’t have great writing then you’ve got to find truth in it.”

* How would you sum up Wild Bill?

“It’s the journey of a very unique man in extraordinary circumstances. Dressed up as a procedural. The thing that is most interesting about Wild Bill is its tone. It’s both 100 per cent authentic, real, gritty and yet it’s also very funny and sweet. It’s rare to come across material that ticks all of those boxes. That’s this show’s strength. It’s a very specific, original world.

“The quality of acting from top to bottom in Wild Bill is really extraordinary. It’s what I hoped for when I came over here. The talent pool of actors here is always so strong.

We’re just blessed to have such a great group on the show and for me to have such great acting partners on any given day I walk on the set. There’s always somebody extraordinary to work with.”

READ MORE: Ten things we learnt from the promo for Wild Bill

READ MORE: Wild Bill begins filming in Boston

* Wild Bill will be shown on Wednesday, June 12 at 9pm on ITV.