Silver Screen Icon Gena Rowlands Battling Alzheimer’s, Reveals Son


Amid the glittering veneer of fame and celebrity lies an unfortunate reality – that they too can be beset by tragedy and heartbreak. A beloved icon of the silver screen, the eminent Gena Rowlands, has had her star dulled by the shadowy tendrils of Alzheimer’s disease, as revealed by her son, esteemed filmmaker Nick Cassavetes.

In an intimate disclosure with Entertainment Weekly, Cassavetes unveiled Rowlands’ struggle initiated five years ago. The revelation is tinged with a bitter irony. In 2004, Cassavetes directed his mother in “The Notebook,” a poignant drama where she portrayed the older iteration of Rachel McAdams’ character – a woman grappling with dementia.

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Conversing in-depth about Alzheimer’s to ensure the authenticity of the condition on screen, the family now endures the harsh reality off-screen. “We explored it thoroughly, my mother assumed it, and now we’re living it,” Cassavetes reflected, the gravity of life imitating art not lost on him. According to a representative, Cassavetes’ revelations align with the family’s consent.

Lauded for her extensive contribution to cinema, which includes ten films in collaboration with her husband, John Cassavetes, Rowlands received an honorary Oscar in 2015. Her illustrious career includes lauded performances in “A Woman Under the Influence” (1974) and “Gloria” (1980) – both earning her Oscar nominations. A four-time Emmy winner, her last curtain call was for the 2014 comedy “Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks.”

Encountering Alzheimer’s disease isn’t new to the Rowlands family. As Gena Rowlands disclosed during the production of “The Notebook,” her mother, actor Lady Rowlands, was also plagued by the condition. Her painful familial experience impacted her decision to partake in the film.

Rowlands once shared with O Magazine, her voice layered with emotion and nostalgia. “That journey with my mother was so hard that I don’t think I would’ve done it (the movie) without Nick,” she confessed, adding, “Despite its challenges, it was an extraordinary film.” That very journey is now a lived reality, making it an eerie echo from reel to real life.