• Actress Gena Rowlands has Alzheimer's
  • She is best known from 'The Notebook'
  • Her life now mirrors her character's

In a revelation that blurs the lines between art and life, Gena Rowlands, the venerable screen legend known for her riveting performances and two Oscar nominations, is now facing a personal battle with Alzheimer's disease.

Her son, Nick Cassavetes, shared this poignant news with Entertainment Weekly, drawing an unintentional parallel to Rowlands' role in the timeless love story, 'The Notebook'.

A Legacy of Talent Facing a Cruel Reality

Rowlands, who has graced the silver screen for nearly seven decades, is no stranger to the challenges of Alzheimer's. Her portrayal of Allie, a character who succumbs to dementia in 'The Notebook', was informed by her own mother's struggle with the disease. Now, in a cruel twist of fate, life imitates art as Rowlands herself has been living with Alzheimer's for the past five years.

The connection between Rowlands' role and her real-life situation is haunting. "We lived it, she acted it, and now it's on us," Cassavetes remarked, highlighting the eerie overlap.

"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," says the director, whose grandmother, actress Lady Rowlands, also had the disease. "She's in full dementia. And it's so crazy — we lived it, she acted it, and now it's on us."

The director reminisced about their collaboration on 'The Notebook', emphasizing the authenticity they aimed for in depicting Alzheimer's—a goal that has taken on new, personal significance.

Cassavetes shared a touching anecdote from the film's production, revealing the dedication and talent of his mother. Faced with studio demands for a more emotional performance, Rowlands delivered an unforgettable scene that brought everyone, including her son, to tears. This moment of artistic brilliance underscores the depth of Rowlands' talent and her profound impact on cinema.

Despite the personal challenges, Cassavetes looks back on 'The Notebook' with pride, celebrating the film's enduring appeal and its special place in their shared history.

"We go to reshoots, and now it's one of those things where mama's pissed and I had asked her, 'Can you do it, mom?' She goes, 'I can do anything,'" he recalls.

True to her word, on the very first take, he says, "I promise you, on my father's life, this is true: Teardrops came flying out of her eyes when she saw [Garner], and she burst into tears. And I was like, okay, well, we got that... It's the one time I was in trouble on set."

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As Rowlands faces her most personal role yet, her legacy as a cinematic icon remains untarnished, a testament to her indomitable spirit and extraordinary talent.

For those seeking more information or wishing to support Alzheimer's research, resources are available through the Alzheimer's Association and the Alzheimer's Foundation of America.