Gena Rowlands
Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP

Hollywood Legend Gena Rowlands Was Directed by Her Son in 'The Notebook'

It's hard to imagine a Hollywood without Gena Rowlands. Inspired by Bette Davis from a young age, the legendary actress has been starring in countless iconic films since the '60s and never once considered being anything other than a performer. Luckily she had incredibly supportive parents that were 100 percent behind her decision to drop out of the University of Wisconsin and move to New York City to audition for the American Academy of Dramatic Arts where she ended up meeting her future husband, renowned filmmaker John Cassavetes.

gena rowlands


"He was a year ahead of me but we met there," Rowlands explained to Interview Magazine.

"What you do when you are at a school for drama, you do a play as opposed to a final. Anyone who wanted to come could just come. So he came, and I can't remember the name of the play, of course, it was a long time ago. He came backstage afterwards and introduced himself and we talked a bit, and then went for a little coffee at the Russian Tea Room next door. It just...started."

Cassavetes was initially an actor as well, and while Rowlands had a strong career starting out on the New York stage, her husband was working on live TV during the day. They weren't able to see each other very often but when Rowlands was offered a contract with MGM after the studio saw her in Middle of The Night, the couple relocated to Los Angeles. Cassavetes launched his directing career with Shadows and discovered he loved it.

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Over the course of their marriage, Rowlands starred in multiple films directed by her husband — A Child Is Waiting, Faces, Minnie and Moskowitz, A Woman Under the Influence, Opening Night, Gloria and Love Streams included. She even earned Academy Award nominations for her roles in A Woman Under the Influence and Gloria. Rowlands has won two Golden Globes including one for The Betty Ford Story as well as three Emmy wins including Best Supporting Actress for Hysterical Blindness. She even earned an honorary Oscar in 2015.

Rowlands is known for many memorable performances in films like Woody Allen's Another Woman, Tempest, Broken English, The Skeleton Key, Lonely Are the Brave, Night on Earth, The High Cost of Loving and Hope Floats. She's also appeared on numerous TV shows like Peyton Place, Monk, Columbo, and The Alfred Hitchcock Hour.   

gena rowlands

U.S. director Nick Cassavetes, son of director John Cassavetes, center back, poses with, from left, his sister Xan Cassavetes, his daughter Gena Cassavetes, his mother Gena Rowlands, and his sister Zoe, (AP Photo/Franck Prevel, File)

It should come as no surprise that with all that talent between Rowlands and her late husband John Cassavetes, they would have exceptional children. Their son, Nick Cassavetes, has gone on to become a notable director, working with his mother on multiple films including The Notebook, She's So Lovely, Unhook the Stars and Yellow. Their other two children, daughters Alexandra (Xan) and Zoe, have also worked in the industry behind the scenes as well as in front of the camera. The beloved actress explained to Beverly Cinema that it's actually really easy working with her children. Maybe because she was used to working with her husband for decades?

"It's not hard at all, really. I don't know why. Maybe it is because we have all the same blood. I'm not sure. It's very easy to work with them."

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