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Gena Rowlands Has Alzheimer’s, Mirroring Her Character

Gena Rowlands Photo: Steve Granitz/WireImage
Gena Rowlands’s life is imitating art in the most heart-wrenching way possible. The two-time Oscar-nominated actress has dementia, her son, director Nick Cassavetes, shared in an interview with Entertainment Weekly. Cassavetes directed Rowlands in the 2004 film The Notebook, in which she played Older Allie, a character with dementia whose husband told her their love story to remind her of their life together. “I got my mom to play older Allie, and we spent a lot of time talking about Alzheimer’s and wanting to be authentic with it, and now, for the last five years, she’s had Alzheimer’s,” Cassavetes told EW. “She’s in full dementia. And it’s so crazy — we lived it, she acted it, and now it’s on us.” Rowlands’s mother, Lady Rowlands, also had dementia. Rowlands received an honorary Oscar in 2015 and, alongside her husband, John Cassavetes, is regarded as one of the great pioneers of independent film. “Everyone said it must be hard to work for your son,” she said in 2015 of her time on The Notebook. “I guess when you feel loved, everything is easy.”

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