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The 59-year-old star played deputy communications director Sam Seaborn during the first four seasons of the hit NBC political drama.
“The West Wing” was a huge success for the network, bringing home four outstanding drama series Emmys. The popular program was a fictional portrayal of a U.S. president and his administration. Lowe’s decision to leave at the height of the show’s popularity was a surprise to fans.
Now the actor is hinting at why he chose to exit. During an interview on the Stitcher Studios’ Podcrushed show, Lowe called his departure “the best thing I ever did” and likened his tenure on the show to “a super unhealthy relationship.”
The actor said he “felt very undervalued” there, per Deadline.
“I did not have a good experience,” Lowe said. Referencing the popularity of the series, he said, “I walked away from the most popular girl at school, but I also knew that it was a super unhealthy relationship, and it was the best thing I ever did.”
Lowe didn’t elaborate on what caused him to feel this way on set.
When the actor left the series in 2002, he didn’t hint at any animosity. The official statement from Warner Brothers Television and John Wells Productions said the separation happened “amicably.”
“As much as it hurts to admit it, it has been increasingly clear, for quite a while, that there was no longer a place for Sam Seaborn on The West Wing,” Lowe said in a statement at the time. “Warners had allowed me an opportunity to leave the show as I arrived — grateful for it, happy to have been on it and proud of it. We were a part of television history and I will never forget it.”
A CNN report at the time referenced rumors that Lowe was leaving over a salary dispute. It said there were rumors that Lowe was disappointed that his $75,000/per episode rate wasn’t increased while Martin Sheen was making $300,000 per episode.