Rob Lowe becomes Drew Peterson in Lifetime's 'Untouchable'
Ron Swanson's bristly mustache, a revered feature on "Parks and Recreation," just met its match in Rob Lowe's upper lip. Lowe, who appears on the NBC comedy, got fuzzy for his role as accused killer Drew Peterson in Lifetime's biopic, "Untouchable: The Drew Peterson Story," which airs Saturday.
It was a transformation that required upwards of six hours, as the actor added facial hair, changed hair color, and got a puffier midsection while alternating between the two gigs this summer.
"That for me -- the transformation -- is what I always aspired to do," Lowe said during a break from filming the movie in July. "To be able to do characters on such wide edges of the spectrum. That is definitely the case right now."
Lowe joined "Parks and Recreation" at the end of the second season as Chris Traeger, an excessively positive government official. In "Untouchable," he assumes the role of Peterson, a Chicago-area police officer who is an accused wife killer.
The film, which is based on the nonfiction book “Fatal Vows: The Tragic Wives of Drew Peterson” by former Joliet Herald-News reporter Joe Hosey, looks at Peterson while he was married to his third wife, Kathleen Savio. It was during this time that he became lovers with Stacy (played in the movie by "The Big Bang Theory's" Kaley Cuoco), who was 30 years his junior.
Peterson has been behind bars since May 2009, charged with murdering Savio; he is awaiting trial. He is also suspected in the disappearance of his fourth wife, Stacy Peterson.
"I had followed the story for so long," Lowe said in recalling Peterson. "My trailer is always on CNN. I just thought he was a true eccentric -- among other possible things."
Lowe added that assuming the role of a real-life person was enticing as an actor: "For me, finding those places to make him fully dimensional was interesting. Here he is, this dark, threatening, potentially dangerous character who clearly had an ability to charm young, beautiful women."
Lowe said he spent "hours and hours and hours and hours" looking at film and listening to Peterson speak.
"The stuff he actually says you couldn't make up," he said. "So much so that I worry that when people see it, they'll think it's over the top. It's not. He said these things."
Back in July, Peterson's lawyers unsuccessfully made attempts to stop production on the movie, serving Lowe and Lifetime Entertainment with cease-and-desist letters. Peterson apparently isn't too impressed with the end result after watching a trailer for the two-hour movie.
For Lowe, who has been known to effuse about his wife during interviews, there was no hesitation about playing a person most of the world thinks killed his two wives:
" I don't have to relate to it; I don't have to like it; but I have to at least recognize his distinct worldview."
Photo: Rob Lowe as Drew Peterson in "Untouchable." Credit: Lifetime