Rob Lowe knows what he's talking about when it comes to teen-dream fame and being too pretty to be taken seriously.
So should a few tears be shed over his tragic fate? Nope, it seems -- the 50-year-old isn't complaining, just explaining.
Lowe, who appears in the upcoming movie "Sex Tape" and is doing the rounds promoting his new book, "Love Life," sat with Oprah Winfrey in an interview that aired Sunday night and said he has "tremendous empathy" for Justin Bieber, even as some in the world have begun to shut the door on the pop sensation (pretty much literally, in the case of some Miami nightclubs).
"He makes really good music, he does," Lowe said, "but I think he knows the dark secret, and the dark secret is that 80% of his audience doesn't give a ... about his music. He knows it. It bums him out."
What it's really about is what his young fans themselves are going through at this point in their lives, the former Teen Beat and Tiger Beat cover boy declared.
"They care about lemming think, and their girlfriends and who's oohing and ahhing. It has nothing to do with what he's doing as an artist," Lowe said.
"He is the guy who's standing in front at a moment when they're going through a developmental thing. It's natural, it's all great, but if it wasn't him, it'd be someone else, like it was me."
That's pretty somber news if you're Bieber, or the next guy in line to be in front, but not a new story to most adults, who've grown up to see their teen idols fade away or fall from grace.
"Parks & Recreation" star Lowe, however, has managed to keep a career going and is now getting to play the parts he says he always wanted to but couldn't.
"When I was a teen idol, I was so ... pretty I wouldn’t have taken myself seriously," he told the New York Times Sunday Magazine.
That, he says, is part of the bias against pretty people. (Again, cue those tears? Nah.)
"There’s this unbelievable bias and prejudice against quote-unquote good-looking people, that they can’t be in pain or they can’t have rough lives or be deep or interesting," he told the magazine. "They can’t be any of the things that you long to play as an actor."
Regarding his role in "Sex Tape," starring Cameron Diaz and Jason Segal as a married couple whose homemade sex tape goes public, Lowe acknowledged a tawdry episode from his past: the late-'80s leaked sex tape that showed him getting it on with two ladies (one of whom turned out to be only 16) during the Democratic National Convention. That was the scandal that sent him to rehab, landing him sober since 1990. He performed 20 hours of community service to avoid criminal charges.
"Considering I pioneered the field," said the original celebrity sex-tape star, "it’s high time I actually made some money in it."