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Interview with Chad Lowe

Aired January 24, 2007 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, exclusive -- his marriage to Oscar winner Hilary Swank publicly shattered. Then she told the world he'd had an addiction problem.
Chad Lowe opens up for the first time about the split and his fight to stay sober. Plus, his new role on "24."



LOWE: It's done.


KING: Will he help save the day or make things worse?

Chad Lowe, in-depth, up close.

And then, a dramatic decision in the child custody fight that's made headlines all around the world. A little girl, almost eight, raised nearly all her life by an American family, must be returned to her Chinese birth parents.

It's all next on LARRY KING LIVE.

Good evening.

We begin with the Emmy award winning actor, Chad Lowe, the newest member of the cast of "24," the ex-husband of two time Oscar winner Hilary Swank, the brother of actor Rob Lowe, who's been a guest on this program and who I worked with on a teleplay, as well.

He just had a birthday recently, did Chad. He's going to be 40.

Is that -- is that -- that threatens women.

CHAD LOWE, ACTOR: Don't age me yet. I'm -- I went from 38 and I know that, you know, conventional wisdom is you just skip by 39 because it's meaningless, but I'm still 39.

KING: You're 39...

LOWE: Yes.

KING: And you'll stay 39? LOWE: I'm going to stay 39 as long as I can.

KING: What's the role like on "24?"

LOWE: You know, it's just -- it's such a rare occasion when you get to do something that you love on a show that you actually love. And that's really the way it is for me on "24." They're just -- it's such a professional crew. The story line is so compelling and it's controversial, obviously. And it's a great character. And it came along...

KING: Who do you play?

LOWE: I play Reed Pollock. He's a savvy politico. I'm not sure -- you could help me understand what that means. I'm not sure what that means. But I am chief of staff to Peter MacNicol's character. And I am coming in with an agenda. It's a little -- well, you know, it's one of those rare times in my career where I really have to be careful about how I talk about the role. I just hope...

KING: Because?

LOWE: Because...

KING: You may not be a good guy?

LOWE: Well, I may be giving away some kind of secret, you know?

And, you know, anything could happen on that show. That's one of the beauties of "24," is nobody's safe.

KING: Do you get to stay with it for as long as it's it?

LOWE: Well, I have yet to work with Jack Bauer, so I'm still alive.

Everybody, you know, people always say have you worked with Kiefer and how is Kiefer?

And I know him, you know, actually just as a friend. We've played on the same ice hockey team for a while. And he's a lovely, lovely guy.

KING: Oh, yes.

LOWE: He's a great leader on that show.

KING: Yes.

LOWE: I mean his work ethic is second to none, you know?

And he really sets a great tone.

But, you know, I haven't had a chance to work with him yet, which I think may be a good thing.

KING: We did a whole show out there with a lot of the cast members and...

LOWE: Yes.

CTU, right?

KING: Yes. Really, that's some setup with that.

LOWE: Yes, it really is. It really -- it's really thrilling. I mean there is an energy to that show and, you know, you step onto that stage and you realize that everything that's happening on the show for the entire, whatever, 24 episodes, is really one day.

KING: Thank you for agreeing to discuss publicly tonight what we haven't discussed. So...

LOWE: Well...

KING: I appreciate it.

LOWE: Thanks.

KING: First, what was it like to see yourself everywhere in that kind of pattern?

LOWE: It -- are you referring to...

KING: Hilary Swank, the tabloids...

LOWE: The tabloids, yes.

KING: ... pictures, the stories.

LOWE: Yes, I mean...

KING: What was that like?

LOWE: Well, it's interesting. You know, I've -- I guess, in a way, I've kind of grown up in -- maybe in the shadow of the spotlight, if you will, having an older brother who preceded me and, you know, who is -- has reached a level in his career and a certain amount of celebrity and fame early on. And then, you know, following in his footsteps, as I have.

And then, you know, marrying Hilary and then, you know, when Hilary and I met, we met very young. And I think that's really important to kind of highlight that, because clearly, you know, we are now divorced and there have been, you know, obviously some rumors and people have asked -- you know, people want to know why, what happened, because we apparently seemed so happy.

And we were for most of the time. And, you know, as I said, I said before, I will always love Hilary, you know? I don't think that you just fall in love and then you don't have a place in your heart for that person. I'm not in love with her, but I will always love her. It's a -- I'm comfortable in that role, though. I'm comfortable being the observer. I've, you know, I've started directing, which I'm sure we'll talk about a little bit...

KING: But you don't -- did you -- were you comfortable being in the spotlight that way?

LOWE: You know, I -- parts of it, sure. Parts of it. I mean any time her career was flashing and she was being honored, as she was, with two Academy Awards and countless other awards, you know, I was always just very, very proud of her. And, you know, this is a girl who had a dream, like I have a dream.

KING: But when it turned bad, you couldn't have been comfortable with that.

LOWE: Yes, I don't think anybody is comfortable with that, you know?

And I -- I'm, you know, it's something you try to -- you have to reconcile yourself with. And there's a certain deal I think you make as a public figure that there will be people who are interested in your life and in your public -- private life, as well.

And so there's always a balance and always a challenge as to, you know, how do you participate in that and how do you...

KING: Do you accept that?

LOWE: I think you have to or you get out, you know?

You either do it -- listen, if you want run for office, you know, they're going to start asking questions. They're going to dig into your past, you know?

And that's why I think, a lot of times, you see candidates say I'm just not up for it. I don't want to put my family through that.

If I wasn't up for it, I wouldn't have chosen this line of work.

KING: And no children?


KING: Was it tough for you when she forgot to mention you when she got an Academy Award?

She thanked the world and not you.

LOWE: Thanked the world but forgot her husband.

I didn't feel forgotten.

KING: You didn't?

LOWE: No, I didn't. If anything, I felt bad for her because I knew, you know, I knew immediately. You know, it's a horrible thing, those award shows. I mean you've got these song and dance numbers that nobody particularly cares about and then somebody works their life for this one moment and, you know, it's such a rare moment. And they give you 15, 20 seconds to say your piece, you know?

And so they were flashing, you know, "finish up," "get off the stage" and they, you know, they're starting to play the music. And I could see in her eye the second -- the second she was off that, you know, she realized that.

KING: Uh-oh.

LOWE: And I felt for her more than I felt for myself.

KING: When she went public about the end of the marriage, she discussed the fact that you had addiction problems.

LOWE: Yes.

KING: Did you expect that?

LOWE: No, I didn't. I didn't expect it. And, you know...

KING: Why do you think she did it?

LOWE: I...

KING: I mean she didn't have to. She could have just said we're divorcing...

LOWE: You know, I think she regrets it because I know her character. You know, she's a really special person. She's got a great heart. Obviously, she's incredibly talented and she's super ambitious. And I -- I don't know. I mean I'm not on her team anymore. I'm not in her circle.

KING: So you were shocked?

LOWE: Shocked would be a little too -- I mean I'm not shocked -- it's true, you know?

So it wasn't as though she made something up, and it was all of a sudden, you know, she was telling some lie. I mean, it's true. I was disappointed. I was, you know, I was definitely very disappointed that -- that she, you know -- it was -- I felt like it was for me to discuss if I wanted to discuss it.

KING: Was it all alcohol?

LOWE: No. No. No.

KING: All kinds? Drugs?

LOWE: Well, I mean, you know, my feeling about that is, is I consider myself an alcoholic. And for many people that I know, that's, you know, that's just part of my story. And whatever it is that's mind altering, mood altering, whether you're drinking or doing whatever you're doing to make things better or get through tough times or to make the good times better, to me it doesn't matter what it is, whether it's alcohol or it's drugs of any sort. I mean it could be prescription pills people have problems with.

So I identify myself as an alcoholic and, really, that was kind of the gateway for me, and primarily my problem. Yes.

KING: So do you go to A.A.?

LOWE: Well, it's Alcoholics Anonymous, so...

KING: So you're...

LOWE: I wouldn't...

KING: And you can't be anonymous when you walk in the door.

LOWE: You know, I -- I'll tell you, I have been blessed, truly blessed. I have to say, I owe everything to my sobriety. I'm grateful. As painful as that period in my life was and as hard as it was, certainly on Hilary -- it was not easy on her -- I am very grateful to be an alcoholic. It has given me a life that I never imagined, well beyond my wildest dreams, a spiritual base from which I now operate and a comfort in my own skin.

You know, for so long it was measuring myself, where do I fit in? Am I better than? Am I less than?

And now, you know, I'm a worker among workers and I'm no better than, no less than.

KING: When we come back, the call Chad got from "60 Minutes" man Mike Wallace after news of his and Hilary's split got out.

Don't go away.


HILARY SWANK, ACTRESS: And I feel like I may be dreaming. I may be waking up tomorrow and it might be the 27th of February and this is not all happening.



QUESTION: Have you -- have you picked a spot on the mantelpiece to put it yet?

SWANK: Yes, actually. I just decided that we're going to put it right next to his Emmy.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hilary tells "Vanity Fair" that she worked very hard to see Chad through his dark period. She says: "I believed in my marriage. I never ever thought I would get a divorce. That's why I tried so hard to make it work."

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: One of the things she said was that it -- when she found out that he had this substance abuse problem, that it was very important to her to be there for him during this. She said I realized that this was when he needed me most and she was not about to walk away from the relationship or from him at that time.


KING: We're back with Chad Lowe.

Is that all correct?

LOWE: Yes, absolutely, she was. You know...

KING: "People" magazine also reported that Mike Wallace called you?

LOWE: Yes, he did. You know, when she...

KING: A good guy.

LOWE: Oh, what a -- what a great guy.

KING: Great guy.

LOWE: I wish I could have spoken to him on camera. They had done a profile and they had asked if I would speak. And I didn't because I didn't, you know, it was for Hilary. And so then afterward, he called me. You know, he was so sweet.

He said, "What can I do? Is there anything I can do to fix this?"

KING: Because he's had (UNINTELLIGIBLE) -- he's had depression.

LOWE: Oh, for sure.

KING: We -- there's nobody who escapes from this.

LOWE: Nobody does. Yes.

KING: When did you know you had a problem?

LOWE: Oh, my. Well, you know, for me I think the first step is being able to admit to yourself that you have a problem and then admit to another person that you have a problem. I knew probably -- I might have had my -- I had some questions way, way back, you know?

KING: Before you got married? LOWE: Oh, sure, because, you know, I binge -- I was a binge drinker.

KING: Yes.

LOWE: And, you know, I thought that was my rite of passage as a man. And so...

KING: So you could go without it for two weeks and then a lost weekend?

LOWE: Sure. And then, you know, and I learned normal drinkers don't black out, you know? That's not -- that's not normal drinking. And so, you know, we said a propensity to -- to abuse it. And so I had always kind of thought ooh, I'd better be careful with this.

And then, you know, you don't -- you don't look at yourself in the mirror and go I am the face of addiction alcoholism. I mean I...

KING: What finally brought you to do it?

LOWE: Well, a lot of it was Hilary's support, for sure, and being tired -- being sick and tired of being sick and tired.

KING: Did she leave you because of it?

LOWE: I don't believe so. I don't believe so. No, I mean -- because I've been, you know, I've been sober three years and eight months and we've just recently gotten divorced. I mean I can't speak for her, but I know for me, you know, that I don't -- I don't believe that was it. I mean I think -- you know, you spend a lot of time trying to figure out what happened.

I mean, anybody, I think, who's gone through a divorce can recognize that. You wonder, you know, was it something I did, something I said? Could I have done it differently, you know?

KING: Did you ever know why you drank?

LOWE: Yes. I drank to change and alter my moods and to feel better, often, to deal with, you know, self-pity or depression, to a certain degree or -- and, also, conversely, you know, when the -- when things were good, you know, you drink to make it better. You think it's -- it's going to be better. It's like this wonder tonic, you know?

When you're awkward and you don't know how to act and you feel insecure, you know, and you're -- for me it was, I don't know, 12 or 13. You know, I realized after a first couple sips of alcohol -- which I didn't like the taste of, but boy, I sure loved the way it made me feel.

But, listen, a lot of people can drink normally. I'm not one of those crusaders.

KING: Yes. And we don't know why someone can take two drinks and be an alcoholic...

LOWE: Yes.

KING: Another person, two drinks they're not.

LOWE: Yes.

KING: There is an addiction. Maybe it's inherited.

LOWE: I think that there is some -- yes, there's certainly some medical thought to that and, you know...

KING: When actor Matthew Perry, the star of "Friends" and now "Studio 60," was on this program four years ago, he talked about getting clean and sober.



MATTHEW PERRY, ACTOR: Well, Larry, the thing is, if I don't have sobriety, I don't have anything. I don't have a job. I don't have a...

KING: A wife.

PERRY: I won't have a wife. I won't have kids. I won't have -- I won't have anything. And smarter people than myself explained that to me at that very moment.


KING: True?

LOWE: I agree. Yes. I know Matthew. He's a good guy. He's a really good guy and he's been very courageous and, you know, he's had a tough time of it because they, you know -- it's been hard for his anonymity. I know that that's been an issue.

You know, it's hard. But, listen, I -- I -- when I entered into this journey of getting sober, I knew, you know, a lot of people around me said listen, buddy, there are a lot of people a lot more famous than you that are dealing with this. So, you know, that helped kind of put me right sized and in my -- in my place.

KING: Did you ever work while drinking?

LOWE: Never.

KING: Never?

LOWE: Nope. Never.


LOWE: I certainly got off the set and finished a day's work and did.

KING: Right. But you never report to work...

LOWE: No. No, absolutely not.

KING: Oh, so you can control it in that area?

LOWE: Yes.

KING: I mean it meant enough to you -- the work meant enough to you.

LOWE: You know, I'm lucky, because there are, that there are, I -- you know, they say for people, your bottom -- you hit your bottom when you stop digging, you know?

And for some people that's the grave. I mean we see it too many times. It's a -- it's one of the leading problems with the health in this country is addiction and alcoholism.

And, you know, for me, I'm lucky. I'm lucky that I'm sober and I'm grateful to be sober. I was playing golf with my father and a judge in Dayton, Ohio last summer. And I asked the judge, I said, "If you were to take away the cases in front of you that were related to drugs and alcohol, how much -- what percentage would that reduce your case load by?"

He said, "About 95 percent."

KING: And that's all people trying to make themselves feel better?

LOWE: I don't know. I don't know. It's cunning and baffling, as they say. I just know for me, you know, I was searching for answers and I was looking in the wrong place.

KING: Where did you go for help?

LOWE: I've turned to a fellowship of, you know, men who are a great support and people who really, you know, understand and...

KING: Did you go away for a while?

LOWE: I did not. No, I did not need to go to a rehab. I'm -- I mean I didn't need to. Luckily it stuck and, you know, I mean -- look, if my life wasn't, you know, a complete 180 and not better, I would -- I would go back to my old ways. But my life is so good now.

KING: Do you still say you're an alcoholic?

LOWE: Yes, I'm still an alcoholic.

KING: We'll be right back with Chad Lowe.

He now is one of the stars of "24."

Don't go away.


LOWE: You know, most of the time we're at home in sweats watching it on the couch. And we got invited, so we had to get dressed up fancy and we get to be fans all the same, you know?



SWANK: I would be lying if I didn't say that you think about an Oscar in your lifetime if what you want to be in your life is an actor.




LOWE: It's done.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All these people will come forward if we need them to testify?

LOWE: Yes, I put the screws to every one of them myself. They're all yours.


KING: We're back with Chad Lowe.

He's now on with the cast of "24," the ex-husband of Hilary Swank.

By the way, was it tough both of you in the same profession and she getting more famous?

LOWE: You know, it -- not in the sense that I was jealous and envious of her as much as, you know, you'd think. I would like opportunities myself and, you know, anybody who survives in this business has to realize that it's cyclical. You know, I mean it's a long road and she had, and has continued to have, great success and, you know, things are certainly looking up for me.

And, you know, she was also very generous. You know, she's a very generous spirit. So I didn't feel like I was excluded.

KING: How did this fellowship work for you?

LOWE: As far as...

KING: Getting you to stop drinking. LOWE: Oh, gosh. It's one of those things, you know, you -- I pinch myself every day and go I don't know how this is happening, but it's working.

You know, I'm not particularly religious, but I'm very spiritual, and for me, it's, you know, kind of the cornerstone, I think, is, you know, finding a higher power and really turning your will and your life over to that higher power and having guidance for that and asking for help, you know?

And there's no shame in asking for help. And I, you know, before I got sober I thought, you know, I'm a man, I'm strong, I'm not supposed to ask for help. I'm supposed to have all the answers.

And, you know, you really realize that that's just not the way it is. And, you know...

KING: What keeps you going, though? are you -- do you go because of the group every week?

LOWE: Well, I stay -- I mean I'm very active and, you know, I try to reach my hand out to anybody who would need help or has questions. And, you know, I'm -- that's what I -- that's what I do. It's about service.

KING: Is today easier than yesterday?

LOWE: Yes, but I don't know about tomorrow.

KING: No guarantees.

LOWE: Today's good. Today's good.

KING: Are there days when you want to drink?

LOWE: You know, less and less, certainly. Less and less. I mean the first year is tough, you know? The first year is tough. But, you know -- and there's an -- there's an old saying, you know, try 90 days without it and, you know, if you're not happy and not doing better and your life hasn't gotten better, we'll refund your misery.

And, you know, it's pretty -- it's amazing how quickly things get better.

KING: The tough thing about alcohol, also, is it's inexpensive.

LOWE: Yes, well...

KING: Right?

I mean it's an easy addiction.

LOWE: Yes, I mean you start top shelf and then, you know, you end up somewhere down below.

KING: Hard to stop?

LOWE: Yes, one of the hardest things I've ever done and certainly the most valuable and the greatest gift.

KING: We have an e-mail question from Rita in Greenville, South Carolina: "Every day I read of another celebrity entering rehab. Do you think they are more prone than ordinary people to turn to alcohol and drugs?"

LOWE: That's a good question. I don't think -- I don't think that they are more prone. I think they're just more visible.

KING: So there's as many non -- maybe much more non-celebrities than celebrities in these places, right?

LOWE: Yes, I mean I -- I have not been to rehab myself, but I certainly know plenty of people who have and they're not actors and they're not in the entertainment industry.

KING: Is this the kind of group where you contact other people who are coming in to help them?

LOWE: Well, it's just a -- it's just a, you know, it's an amazing fellowship. You know, you just -- you reach your hand out and it was freely given to me and I try to give it back as often as I can.

KING: Men only?

LOWE: I try to gravitate toward men. I mean women seem to complicate things for me (LAUGHTER) in the greatest way.

KING: Before we talk about other things in your career, how is life now?

LOWE: Life is really good. Life is really good. You know, I never thought I would be at this place and I, you know, I've learned to accept where I'm at and I couldn't be happier, you know?

KING: Was there a time where you -- you thought you wouldn't have a career again?

LOWE: Well, there was a time where I wasn't sure I wanted a career.

KING: Really? Oh, really?

LOWE: Sure. Yes. I was not happy with the opportunities I was getting and the kind of material and, you know, and I had always had this dream of directing. And I decided I would start exploring that. And it gave my life direction and focus and it kind of reinvigorated me. And I have to say, being on "24" -- it had been about two years since I had acted. And so I wasn't, you know, I love the show and I loved the character, but I wasn't sure I would love to do it.

And I have to say, after having done it, I love doing it. And it's kind of reminded me as to why I love acting. And, you know, I know all jobs aren't this great. And a lot of it is the people. I mean the people on that set that, you know, I think you have -- like Howard Gordon, I mean, a lot of the other people, and Jon Cassar, who is one of the directors.

KING: Yes.

LOWE: And, like I said, Kiefer. You know, they have a family and I'm a guest in their family. But they've really made me feel like a part of it.

KING: It's hard to come into a show...

LOWE: Yes, it is.

KING: ... that's been successful, right?

LOWE: Yes. I've come on -- I've been a guest on a lot of shows and, you know, it's always -- I find the leading actor is always kind of sets the tone. And if you've got kind of a leading actor or actress who misbehaves and isn't welcoming, it can be very tense. It's like going to a high school where you're not accepted.

But this has been one of the greatest experiences. I mean the second I walked on that set, it's just felt like home to me.

KING: Has Rob been helpful?

LOWE: In many regards, yes. He's been a great support. And, you know, you really realize, whenever you go through any difficulty, you turn to friends and family. And he's, you know, he's just been -- he's been there -- he's always been there for me. I'm just not sure I've always reached out.

KING: Well, you didn't ask for help?

LOWE: No, I didn't -- I didn't ask for help and...

KING: Did he know you had a problem?

LOWE: You know, I don't know. I didn't -- I never asked him, oddly enough.

KING: You've never asked him, "Rob, did you know I was an alcoholic?"

LOWE: I think -- no. I think a lot of, you know, a lot of it is a very, you know, you hide. People hide, you know? It's not out in the front, you know? And you try to hide it. It's not something that I was particularly proud of. And certainly when you realize it's a problem you hide until you can't hide anymore.

KING: We'll be right back with Chad Lowe.

We'll be taking your phone calls, as well.

You'll see him now regularly on "24." Don't go away.


UNIDENTIFIED SINGERS: Desmond has a barrow in the marketplace...

LOWE: No matter how much you love somebody, there are times...

SWANK: ... when it's an intrusion having them around?

UNIDENTIFIED SINGERS: Desmond says to Molly, girl I like your face and Molly says this as she takes him by the hand.




LOWE: As the two of you enveloped in a blue glow, worked together, united to save my life. Thank you, John. Thank you, Anna. You were my angels. You brought me back to the living.


KING: Was that fun?

LOWE: Yes, that was a good memory, yes.

KING: Doing lines with yourself?

LOWE: Yes, that was pretty wild. Noah Wyle, what a great actor he is.

KING: Let's take a call. Hagerstown, Maryland, hello.

CALLER: Hi, Chad. First, I want to say you're one of the kindest, most down to earth actors out there. And my question to you is there anybody else special in your life right now?

LOWE: Did somebody put you up to this? You know, I have been dating, and I have been enjoying somebody's company. And, you know, it's certainly not something that is serious, but is something that I'm really enjoying. I mean it's serious, who knows? I don't know. I'm on the rebound and feeling very good.

KING: You've had tragedy in the family. Your mother died of breast cancer, right?

LOWE: Yes, yes.

KING: Grandmother had it?

LOWE: Yes, three years ago my mother died.

KING: Martin Sheen was an influence in your life, right? LOWE: Yes, he's been a great influence. Love him or hate him, there's a man who stands up for what he believes in.

KING: Does he?

LOWE: I admire that. I admire anybody who devotes their life to their causes.

KING: Your brother was part of a cancer awareness panel on this show in 2000. He talked about your grandmother's battle with breast cancer. Watch.


ROB LOWE, ACTOR: No, I remember the first time I saw her in a wig. And, again, my grandfather always made her feel so pretty. And particularly when she -- towards the end, you know, when the treatments were really taking their toll on her, he was always so romantic with her. And it was such a great gift that I got to witness that. And I have to admit, I think about it a lot in my own marriage now, that kind of romantic heroism. And there are a lot of guys out there who are really being supportive of women who need it and they should be commended.


LOWE: Was he wearing a wig?

KING: Was he?

LOWE: You know, my father also had lymphoma.

KING: Really?

LOWE: Yes, he's a cancer survivor.

KING: But he's OK?

LOWE: Yes, he is.

KING: And we have an e-mail question from John in Euclid, Ohio.

"Chad, in the past several years you've spent a lot of time campaigning and working in Ohio. Are you ever going to come home here to run for political office?

LOWE: Well after this interview, I'm not sure I'm electable. But I -- I have been -- you know, I'm from Ohio, very proud to be from Ohio and I love the people in Ohio. Now I sound like a candidate.

KING: It's a swing state.

LOWE: Yes, 2004, we kind of identified it as it could be Florida from the previous. And we did the best we do there. And I'm very happy with the direction of the state is moving now. Don't think they need my help. Seems like they got it right, at least from my mind. KING: Ottawa, Canada, hello.

CALLER: Hi, Chad and Larry.


CALLER: Chad, I just want to know how you got the role on "24." And I'm a big fan and the best of luck.

LOWE: Thank you very much. And Canadians are the nicest people in the world. And a lot of the crew and certainly Kiefer are all Canadians. They had on the call sheet, they had -- they were counting down into the beginning of the NHL season. How many call sheets in Hollywood have that?

Thanks for the question. I auditioned. I was told there was a role that they were going to be introducing on the show and would I be interested? And I jumped at the opportunity. I went in and read for it and it went my way this time.

KING: An e-mail from Andrea in Burlington, New Jersey.

"Do you prefer directing to acting?"

LOWE: I had preferred directing to acting until this job on "24." I had directed a film called "Beautiful Ohio," which I'm looking for distribution in now with William Hurt. There it is and Rita Wilson, and it was just one of the greatest experiences of my life.

So now it's pretty equal. And I devote probably half of my time to pursuing acting jobs and half of my time to pursuing directing jobs.

KING: What was it like to play that sexual deviant on "Law & Order: SVU?

LOWE: That was a pretty crazy role. It was interesting because Neal Baer, who is one of the -- runs the show on "SVU," I had seen him at the Golden Globes. And, you know, we were passing and he said, "I have a role, would you like to come do it?" And I had worked with Neal on "ER" and I knew what a great writer he was and a great show. And I said, yes, I will just be there, whatever the role is. And then I got this really juicy role.

KING: Is that more fun to play, when you can let loose?

LOWE: Yes, you always want to try -- yes. Listen, my character on "24," I'm not sure that I would share his kind of political beliefs. So it's a stretch that way. But you cannot play a character like the character on "Law & Order: SVU" or a character on "24." Even if you're playing a serial killer, you can't play them with judgment. You have to try to get inside their minds. So the further removed it is from your own experience, the more of a challenge it is.

KING: Do you have to like them? LOWE: I don't know. That's interesting. I'm not sure. I think you end up sympathizing and understanding them.

KING: You have to believe in them.

LOWE: You have to believe in them. But I don't know if you end up liking them. I don't know, I've never played somebody as heinous as, you know, some sort of war lord or something like that. I don't know if I -- would you cast me as a war lord?

KING: I don't know. But they don't think they are bad, do they?

LOWE: I don't know. Sociopaths, I don't think so.

KING: Sociopaths definitely don't think so.

LOWE: No, I don't think so.

KING: Are you still trying out for other things?

LOWE: Yes. I'm working with some writers. One writer in particular I'm very excited about a script he's written that I would like to direct this year. And I'm meeting people to direct one hour. I actually directed an episode of "Law & Order: SVU," which was a guy named Ted Kotcheff, who's one of the show writers and great directors gave me a shot and it was kind of my introduction to one-hour television, which I love as well.

KING: Great, great group of people, all of the "Law & Order" people. Anyway, we'll take a break, come back with some more moments with Chad Lowe, some more of your phone calls. And then the intriguing story of the awarding of a child. Don't go away.


LOWE: You're just making this up because you had to blame somebody. It wasn't me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You helped her, you raped her and when she pleaded for the life of her and that of her unborn child you stuck your knife in her back to make her shut up. That's what really happened, Jason, just admit it.

LOWE: No, I did not kill her.


LOWE: No. It was someone else, not me. I want a lawyer.



KING: Hockey player.

Are you friendly with Hilary, by the way? LOWE: We don't really speak all that much.


LOWE: But, I mean, you know, there's certainly not hatred there.

KING: Atlanta, hello.

CALLER: Hello, Mr. Lowe.

LOWE: Hi, there.

CALLER: Good evening. I just wanted to say that, first of all, I have been appreciating your work for many years. I think you're an extremely talented actor and I'm so glad to see you back, especially in a high-profile role.

LOWE: Thank you.

CALLER: My question is, now that you are able to start putting your divorce behind you, has it been easier for you now to concentrate on your career and to pursue your own acting opportunities, and have more opportunities become available to you at this time?

LOWE: Yes, I think, you know, you certainly find a lot of free time, you know. And I don't have to consider the needs of another. And I have turned to my work. It's been a great cathartic experience to turn to the work.

So I don't know. I'm certainly much more available than I was before. And I don't know if that's going through the divorce and being single now as much as it is just the fact that I have kind of rediscovered a love for acting, and having had -- just finished directing a film, have kind of reinvigorated myself.

KING: To Youngstown, Ohio, hello.

CALLER: Hi, Larry and Chad.



CALLER: Chad, I think you're a really wonderful, lovely professional actor and I really -- you caught my eye back when you were on your weekly series, when you portrayed the young man with AIDS, which I thought was very profound and it really grabbed the viewers.

But what I would like to know is do you ever have any plans for the big screen?

KING: Movies.

LOWE: Movies, boy, sure. I have got all kinds of plans. I'm just not sure that they have got them for me. KING: Have you done any movies?

LOWE: Yes, I have. I have done some forgettable movies, and I had -- I actually had a small role in the film "Unfaithful," which was a thrill. I got to work with Richard Gere. You know, he's been one of my favorite actors.

KING: Who did you play in that? I loved that movie.

LOWE: Oh, my God. Who was I? I was the guy who caught Diane Lane's character kissing another guy in the diner, and then he fires me and then I yell at him. It was great -- I got to say things I can't really say on this show to Richard Gere's character. It was Adrian Lyne directing, who is one of my favorite directors. So, that was -- yes, I mean, I would -- it's tough, you know, to find -- look, the kind of movies they are making now predominantly are either really small independents or -- that are really kind of edgy, or they are the tentpole event movies. So you know, a lot of the great dramas really are on television now. There's not that stigma like there used to be.

KING: Cincinnati, hello.

CALLER: Hi, Russ -- I'm sorry, Chad, I'm so nervous.

LOWE: It's all right.

CALLER: I was on -- I was in a theater program, Voices in Harmony, this is probably about 10 or 11 years ago, and I was one of the young adults. And you were participating in it, and I just wanted to ask if you had any plans to get back involved with young people in the theater? Because I can remember back then that that was such an inspiration, that someone in your position, you're this great, big movie star and TV star, and I knew you for years and years from "Life Goes On," and I just wanted to say that it made me feel really important that someone like you wanted to be involved.

KING: Would you do that again?

LOWE: Thank you. Thanks a lot. Yes, I mean, I do, do some charitable -- not that she's speaking about charitable work, because that was much more kind of sharing my experience in theater and television. I would love to do that. I mean, you know, dream to be -- you know, be a guest, professor, teacher or something at an university for an acting program or directing program. But yes, I mean, I get a lot of pleasure.

KING: Somebody will take you up on that.

LOWE: I don't know. We'll see. I'm available.

KING: Thanks, Chad.

LOWE: Hey, what a pleasure.

KING: My pleasure.

LOWE: Thank you.

KING: Chad Lowe. He's now a regular on "24."

When we come back -- incredible story, the biological parents win a custody fight. Don't go away.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For the love of Anna is what all we have been through. Just her love.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Anna Mae He is the child at the center of a custody battle she knows nothing about.



KING: We'll meet this extraordinary adoption story in a moment. Anderson Cooper will be up with "AC 360" at the top of the hour. I understand an incredible show tonight.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, Larry, a special edition of "360." "Invisible Chain: Sex work and Slavery." That's right, slavery, happening right now as we speak, and happening right here in America and around the world. Human beings sold off by their own families in some cases, young boys and girls turned into prostitutes. Calling it shocking doesn't even begin to express what's happening.

We will also have an exclusive interview with Vice President Cheney, who talked to CNN's Wolf Blitzer today. The vice president is hard-pressed to admit any mistakes in the war in Iraq, as you'll see. It was a fascinating discussion. That and more at the top of the hour, Larry.

KING: Thanks, Anderson. That's "AC 360," 10:00 Eastern, 7:00 Pacific.

Yesterday, the Tennessee Supreme Court overruled the lower court decision that had taken away Jack and Casey He's parental rights to their biological daughter Anna Mae. In taking away those rights, the lower court had cited parental misconduct and abandonment. But the Tennessee Supreme Court said the little girl must be reunited with her biological parents.

Anna Mae has been living with an American family, the Bakers, for more than seven years. Little Anna Mae will turn 8 years old January 28th.

With us in Memphis, Tennessee, Jack He, the biological father of Anna Mae, the nearly 8-year-old girl at the heart of this lengthy custody fight, which he now has won. And Casey He, the biological mother.

Also there are their attorneys David Siegal and Richard Gordon. By the way, we made repeated calls to the Bakers' attorney in an effort to invite their clients to appear on this program or to obtain any statement responding to the decision by the Tennessee Supreme Court. The calls were not returned.

David Siegal, what was the key to overturning this?

DAVID SIEGAL, ATTORNEY FOR JACK HE: Well, the key to overturning the decision was to convince the Tennessee Supreme Court that the Hes were not guilty of willful abandonment. And the record was clear, and the Tennessee Supreme Court recognized that the Hes had been trying to seek the return of their child since May of 2000.

And under Tennessee law, there's a four-month period of time where if you do not visit your child for four consecutive months, you can be guilty of abandonment. And the Tennessee Supreme Court held that because the Hes had an active custody petition pending in the juvenile court seeking the return of their child, that, as a matter of law, they could not be found guilty of abandonment.

KING: Casey, were you surprised by the decision?


KING: I'm sorry, Casey, did you hear me?

C. HE: Yes, sir.

KING: I know you're happy. Were you surprised by the decision?

C. HE: Yes. We waited for this moment for a long time, the hope and justice for us.

KING: Casey, where is your daughter now, Casey?

C. HE: I don't know, Larry. I have not seen her in a long time.

KING: Jack, is she still with the Bakers?

JACK HE, FATHER OF ANNA MAE: Yes. I think our daughter is still in the home of the Bakers.

KING: Richard, when do they get their daughter back?

RICHARD GORDON, ATTORNEY: Well, Larry, the Supreme Court has specifically instructed the court, the Chancery court, which initially terminated their parental rights, to send the papers directly to the juvenile court, which is to handle all further proceedings. And that's to be done with 12 days of yesterday's opinion.

KING: So what happens then?

GORDON: Well, at that time -- as far as we are concerned, we are very grateful to the court for its decision and its very strong decision. At that time, the juvenile court is instructed by the Supreme Court to have the court implement a plan for the reunification of Mr. and Mrs. He with their child for custody purposes.

And with due consideration to the least trauma to the child, which changes the fundamental posture of the case from one where we would try to get their parental rights reinstated. It's more than just a custody determination. Their rights, actually the relationship with the child had been terminated. It's the equivalent of the death penalty.

The Supreme Court already reinstated those parental rights. Now it's up to the juvenile court, as a result of the seven years of their inability to visit with their child, have any contact with their child, the Supreme Court has instructed the court to assist to develop a plan for the child's benefit so that because this will likely be a traumatic experience for her. No telling what the child may have been told.

KING: David, have they not seen their child in seven years?

SIEGAL: Well, actually, the last time they saw their child, technically, was in September of 2003 during a -- what we would characterize as a court supervised videotaped session with a court- appointed psychologist for about 20-to-30 minutes.

KING: And what happened?

SIEGAL: Well, interestingly, I think perhaps the only reason the Bakers even agreed to allow us to do that because they probably thought that the child would not respond to Mr. and Mrs. He.

But interestingly, the child was very responsive to Mr. and Mrs. He and in fact Mr. and Mrs. He were very responsive to their child as well. It's interesting to note that the Supreme Court noted that in its ruling.

KING: Do the Bakers have any other legal recourse, do you think, Richard? The Supreme Court probably wouldn't hear this, would they?

GORDON: I'm sorry, I could barely hear you, Larry. I think you asked if they had any further recourse. The only recourse at this point would be essentially to the United States Supreme Court.

And I suppose they have a right to seek that appeal. We have been encouraged by some of their public statements that they have not made a determination they are going to appeal at this time. The Hes are more than willing to try to work with the Bakers to try to ensure a smooth transition of the child. To avoid all kinds of -- I'm sorry, sir?

KING: Where do the Hes live?

GORDON: Well, the Hes live in Memphis.

SIEGAL: They live in Memphis.

KING: Oh, they live in Memphis. And where do the Bakers live?

GORDON: We're not really sure where the Bakers live. I assume that they live in Memphis.

KING: Let me get a break and come back. We will be right back with Jack He and Casey He, the biological parents and David Siegal and Richard Gordon, their very successful attorneys. Don't go away.


J. HE: We've been waiting for six years.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Jack He is talking about his fight for Anna Mae. The Tennessee Supreme Court ruled the Hes will get custody of their daughter.

C. HE: We waited for this moment a long time. We are happy today.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Shortly after Anna Mae's birth, the Hes gave their daughter to Jerry and Louise Baker. They thought it was a temporary situation. When the Hes asked for Anna Mae back, the Bakers refused. After a long battle through the court system, the Hes are now planning for Anna Mae's return.



KING: We are back. In 2004, after a lower court ruled in favor of the Baker family, who raised Anna Mae from infancy, the Bakers talked with CNN's Paula Zahn about their court victory. Listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: While this is a very personal experience for not just the Bakers or the Hes, but for a lot of people, and it's been very difficult. There's so many different sides and angles. The thing I would like to say is, this is not about the Bakers nor the Hes. It was about what's in this child's best interest. And this judge heard testimony hour after hour and so decided it was in her best interest was to remain in the home that she's been in, in her entire life.


KING: And again as you know, the Tennessee Supreme Court overruled that decision, giving the child back. Jack, do you expect to get your daughter back soon?

J. ME: Yes.

KING: Casey, do you think you will get Anna Mae back soon?

C. HE: Yes, sir.

KING: We only have 30 seconds left. Richard, do you think it will be soon? GORDON: We certainly hope so. We have already been in touch with psychological experts, two of whom were identified in the Supreme Court opinion, but which, by the way, a unanimous opinion written by the chief justices of the supreme court of Tennessee.

KING: Wow. We will follow this closely -- go ahead, I'm sorry.

GORDON: Thank you, sir. I just want to say we are trying to make the transition, sir.

KING: We will follow this closely with the Hes and David Siegel and Richard Gordon, their attorneys. We hope to hear from the Bakers and their attorneys as well.

Tomorrow night, we'll meet previous finalists on "American Idol" and how well they have done with their career. That's tomorrow night.

Right now let's turn things over to my man Anderson Cooper. He stands by in New York to host "A.C. 360." Anderson?


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