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West Wing Vet Rob Lowe Shares Hilarious Reason Why Real-Life National Security Advisor Called Him In For Meeting

Sam Seaborn reacts on The West Wing.
(Image credit: HBO Max)

The cast of The West Wing were no strangers to run-ins with real-life politicians during the NBC drama’s run in the early 2000s. Invitations to the White House and set visits from celebrities and lawmakers alike were fairly commonplace for Martin Sheen and company in the fictional Washington, D.C. world where President Jed Bartlet ran the country. But even though the stars only held such high-ranking positions on TV, Rob Lowe recently recalled an intimidating experience when he was summoned to the office of the National Security Advisor during a trip to D.C.

Rob Lowe co-starred on The West Wing as Sam Seaborn, the deputy communications director, along with other A-listers Bradley Whitford, Richard Schiff, Allison Janney, Dule Hill and more. On the always entertaining YouTube series Hot Ones, the current 9-1-1: Lone Star actor first clarified an anecdote about then-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright paying the cast a late-night visit during filming, and then shared a story about the pulse-quickening request for him to stop by the office of National Security Advisor Sandy Berger.

I was in the White House with Bill Clinton and was summoned to the national security director’s office, who was a really gnarly, tough, bare-knuckle dude named Sandy Berger. He’s like, ‘Sit down.’ And I’m thinking, ‘Oh, I’m fucked. This had got to be about my taxes.’ And he was like, ‘Why isn’t there a national security advisor on your show?’ And I was like, ‘This is what this guy’s thinking about in the middle of the day?’

How refreshing to know celebrities worry about their taxes, too! Oh wait, that wasn't the point of his story. 

It must have slipped Sandy Berger’s mind that The West Wing actually did have a National Security Advisor, Nancy McNally, played by the acclaimed Anna Deavere Smith for the series’ seven-season run. But we’ll let that bit slide, as it enabled Berger the opportunity to meet Rob Lowe, which is likely the real reason for the meeting to go down.

Rob Lowe left The West Wing after Season 4, but reprised his role as Sam Seaborn for 2020’s A West Wing Special to Benefit When We All Vote on HBO Max, in which the original cast (minus John Spencer, who died in 2005) performed a live version of The West Wing’s Season 3 episode “Hartsfield’s Landing.” 

That wasn't the only time the actor reunited with a memorable co-star from his days in the fictional White House. Lowe, who plays Owen Strand on 9-1-1: Lone Star, reconnected with actress Lisa Edelstein, who joined the Fox drama’s cast for Season 2 as Gwyneth Morgan, Owen’s ex-wife. And while the couple had their issues on the high-octane Fox drama, it wasn’t all roses for them two decades ago either. Back in The West Wing’s premiere in 1999, Lowe’s Sam slept with Edelstein’s Laurie, unaware that Laurie was a call girl. Laurie’s profession turned out to be a hurdle for the White House senior staffer, and their friendship was short-lived. 

9-1-1: Lone Star Season 3, meanwhile, is set to premiere on Fox on January 3, 2022, after a dramatic Season 2 finale saw the 126 squad separated when an arsonist burned down their firehouse and it was announced the 126 would be shut down permanently due to budget cuts. Be sure to check out our 2021 TV Schedule to see what’s coming up through the end of the year.

Heidi Venable

Mom of two and hard-core '90s kid. Unprovoked, will quote Friends in any situation. Can usually be found rewatching The West Wing instead of doing anything productive.