Drew Peterson: Serial wife killer or strangely unlucky man?

Drew PetersonLifetime (tv network)Rob LoweKaley Cuoco Bolingbrook

To cast Rob Lowe as Drew Peterson, a former cop indicted for his wife's death, requires vision.

"I was very gratified they came to me with it because I don't think on paper I would be in the top five guys you would think of," Lowe says.

In "Drew Peterson: Untouchable," premiering Saturday, Jan. 21, on Lifetime, Lowe's handsome self is camouflaged as the heavier and homelier disgraced cop.

It took five hours to strip the color from his hair and dye it gray, Lowe says. Then there was makeup and letting himself go.

"I just stopped all my activity," Lowe says. "I ate what I wanted to eat. I put on as much weight as I could in the short time I had."

"There are scenes where they have me in a high-tech fat suit at the end of the movie, (when) I am doing a striptease," he says. "When I did it I thought, 'Boy, I don't think it will work.' "

Lowe refers to Peterson's arrest, when Peterson danced a jokey striptease for his former colleagues. This isn't a spoiler; there can't be one unless someone managed to escape the news for a while.

This is the unsettling story of the Bolingbrook, Ill., cop, married to his third wife when he became lovers with Stacy, 30 years his junior. Peterson's then-wife was found dead in the tub, her demise ruled an accidental drowning, curious given the lack of water.

Peterson is indicted and imprisoned, awaiting trial on charges of killing his fourth wife, Stacy (Kaley Cuoco, "The Big Bang Theory").

"I think he is the creepiest man on this planet, one of those chummy and fun guys who mess with the guys and flirt with the girls," Cuoco says.

Stacy was young and extremely impressionable while Peterson was older. What initially appears as a commanding, take-charge attitude was just a prelude to excessively controlling her.

"He charms the hell out of her," Cuoco says. "And they just fell under his spell; that happens a lot with these young girls. And they fall into the wrong set of arms, and the saddest thing is we don't know where Stacy is. The worst thing is to not have evidence."

Peterson's story -- that Stacy just disappeared, abandoning her children -- was preposterous to anyone who knew her. She was raising Peterson's children as her own. She was a terrific mom and had always wanted to be a mother."All she ever wanted was kids," Cuoco says. "She was the first one to take care of him. The minute he told his family she was missing they knew that was a giant red flag, that she would never ever leave her kids -- no way."

Stacy is assumed murdered; her body was not discovered.

When she landed the role, Cuoco recalls asking, "Does that mean I get to kiss him?"

"Who doesn't want to work with Rob Lowe?"

Determined to nail this part, Lowe studied news footage. "I heard Drew in my sleep, in my car, in the trailer," Lowe says. "I just got a handle on this guy who thinks he is a big fish in a small pond, sort of the cock of the walk, and picking the right sort of girl that he knows he can impress. Not only do they all almost look the same, but they are the same type. There is something really interesting in a small-time lothario."

Like many Lifetime movies, this one carries a message, which is: "You have to be careful if your husband's ex-wife shows up dead," Cuoco says.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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