Publish date:

The Lowe-down


They must be so proud.

Most parents only dream of the day their child is recognized by millions as "Meathead," the best friend of "Captain Awesome." But for the Lowe parents, that dream became reality as their son, James Lowe III, landed the role in the highly touted NBC series Chuck.

Expected to make to his national television debut in the sixth episode of the series, Lowe's character is introduced with a brief two-liner and the possibility of more material in future episodes.

But for Lowe, whose off-the-set personality has his friends lost for words to describe his mélange of traits, the oddball role in Chuck seems fitting.

Put the "star baseball player and L.A. actor" picture out of your head for a minute. Instead, imagine Lowe at Brown University -- the lone student who would run back up to his dorm when swarms of his fellow dorm inhabitants were sprinting down as a fire alarm echoed through and smoke filled the hallways.

"So, basically, there were a bunch of firefighters going up to our suite, and then a bunch of kids standing outside the dorm," said Cameron Mitchell, Lowe's friend, band mate and a former Brown catcher. "So, I look up, and I see James standing on the roof of our building in hot pink pants and a wife beater. He went up, we all went down."

Imagine Lowe as the kid who donned a full-body, camouflage hunting jumpsuit. With nothing underneath. And, of course, picture those tiny, hot pink daisy dukes. Again. And again. And again.

"They were small. And funny," Mitchell said. "James does anything for a laugh."

Imagine Lowe as the youngster who became a die-hard Cubs fan (despite his North Carolina-mountains upbringing, Cleveland roots, New England college life and current California lifestyle) simply because he watched a lot of WGN, the local Chicago TV station, growing up.

"I would come home from school and the Cubs game would be on and I just fell in love with that team," he said. "From Day One, I was just a Cubs fan and I think I'll always be a Cubs fan."

But his infectious sense of humor and Matthew McConaughey southern twang undermine the man behind "Meathead" -- the one whose pool of talents landed him what most can only watch on the big screen: a Hollywood career.

The four-year starting outfielder (2002-05) for the Brown Bears, tallied 113 career RBIs for a then third place (now tied for fourth) on the school's all-time record list. As a second-team All-Ivy League selection, he batted .482 with runners on base and was chosen as a team captain his junior year.

SI Recommends

And in his freshman year on the squad, he found a teammate that would change his life: pitcher Bryant Romo, AKA "Frankie" from Days of Our Lives in 2005. Romo persuaded Lowe to take interest in the school's theater department.

"I wasn't really interested in business of any kind or any other thing at Brown, so I tried it out and really enjoyed the first class," Lowe said. "Then my acting teacher in that class cast me in a play that she was directing the following year -- my first play ever -- and I loved it."

Many packed fall seasons of acting followed by packed spring seasons of baseball with maybe a little class work in between, and it seemed like Lowe's college years would be set.

"Actually, studying came fourth," he said. "I was a drummer in a cover band, called "Lush," with two other baseball players and another one of my friends. We played probably three or four times a month and we would get together and rehearse at 1, 2, 3 in the morning, because that was the only free time we had after classes and studying and practice and rehearsals and all that. So, that came third. And fourth was studying when I could."

Lowe's acting career consumes the majority of his time now, as he already finished a series of God, Inc., a quirky Web comedy picked up by the Sci-Fi Channel. Yet, he still makes time for his other two priorities.

Being a Little League coach and private youth baseball instructor fills his days in between auditions, while his drumming passion is fulfilled by "Marti's Drink." Yes, his band is named Marti's Drink.

"We were pretty much all sitting around the bar, and not particularly sober, and one of the bartender's at the place where we worked, her name was Marti, and we were just like, "Oh, let's go get a drink for Marti," he said. "Marti's Drink. And that was it. Easy as that. It works. A lot like the name Lush. But you don't really want to know the details behind that."

And you probably don't want to ask him about the glitz of the L.A. life. The celebrities. The fame. The parties. The gossip.

"Haven't really met any celebrities," he said. "Yeah, I'm not really into that whole 'party, juicy gossip' thing. Kind of makes me nauseous."

In fact, perhaps the only celebrity of meaning to Lowe is Brad Henke, a star in the ABC series October Road and owner of the Brad Henke Acting Studio where Lowe trains and auditions for new roles. Under Henke's guidance, Lowe has found many uses for his plethora of talents.

As a former athlete himself -- a former Denver Bronco -- Henke has shared with Lowe a bit of wisdom about acting and sports.

"I told [Henke] I played baseball in college and he was like, 'Athletes do real well in this town, because they're coachable,'" Lowe said. "And that made sense. You have to be able to handle direction and take losses and handle adversity, and all that deals with sports, so he was definitely right. So you can throw that in there -- '"Athletes make good actors because they're coachable.'"

Ma and Pa Lowe are probably gushing with pride right now.