‘About Last Night’: The Real Reason Demi Moore Played Rob Lowe’s Romantic Interest Instead of Melissa Gilbert

About Last Night originally came out in 1986 (and was re-made in 2014). The film is based on David Mamet’s play, Sexual Perversity in Chicago. It stars Rob Lowe as Danny and Demi Moore as Debbie. The two meet at a bar and begin a sexually-charged courtship.

Little House on the Prairie star Melissa Gilbert auditioned for the role of Debbie as well. She and Lowe were dating at the time. But, despite their natural chemistry, the part went to Moore. In her memoir, Prairie Tale, Gilbert explains why.

Demi Moore And Rob Lowe In 'About Last Night...'
Demi Moore and Rob Lowe | TriStar Pictures/Getty Images

Melissa Gilbert auditioned to play Debbie in ‘About Last Night’

When Lowe was cast in About Last Night, he and Gilbert had been dating for a few years. But they’d spent much of their relationship apart working on separate projects. So the actors had been looking for a film they could act in together.

“After years of looking for a project, we thought we found it when, in September 1985, he was cast in About Last Night and I was asked to do a screen test with him,” wrote Gilbert. “Ed Zwick, who was directing this dark-humored relationship story based on the David Mamet play Sexual Perversity in Chicago, set up the test in New York.”

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Gilbert heard that the audition “was strong,” but Moore still got the job.

“Ed was honest and straightforward with me about his decision,” wrote Gilbert. “‘Casting is casting,’ he said, ‘and the studio wants what the studio wants, and beyond all that, just look at the two of them. Even you have to admit they look good together.'”

Gilbert had to agree.

Rob Lowe tried to cheer Melissa Gilbert up by taking her to see Bruce Springsteen

Even though she understood why Moore got the part of Debbie, Gilbert was still disappointed. But it was nothing a little Bruce Springsteen couldn’t fix.

“Rob soothed my sore feelings by taking me to see Bruce Springsteen, who was on the last left of his monumental Born in the U.S.A. tour,” wrote Gilbert.

After the concert, Lowe headed off to Chicago to film the movie. Gilbert visited the set a couple of times, but then she was off to shoot her next project, the TV movie Choices. And Lowe and Gilbert were apart once again.

Rob Lowe broke up with Melissa Gilbert after filming ‘About Last Night’

Rob wanted to break up,” wrote Gilbert. “It was a new year, and after finishing About Last Night, he wanted to see other people.”

The breakup felt inevitable to Gilbert. They simply weren’t ever in the same place at the same time anymore.

Melissa Gilbert and Rob Lowe
Melissa Gilbert and Rob Lowe | The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images

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“Despite getting along, our separate projects had caused us to spend too much time apart,” wrote Gilbert. “I cried and wondered how I was going to get through it. At nearly twenty-two, I resigned myself to life with my cats and my beagle, Sidney, they only living creatures who understood me.”

Thankfully, Gilbert had people in her life to help pick her up, particularly her friend Katie Wagner.

“She kept me out of the house and social when I argued with her and everyone else that my life was over and I was better off spending the rest of my life under the covers in sweats and a T-shirt,” wrote Gilbert. “And she was right when she promised that if I got my a*s out of bed and got dressed, a new door would open.”