Inside 'Notebook' Actress Gena Rowlands' Alzheimer’s Battle

She gave a heart-wrenching performance as a woman with Alzheimer’s disease in the beloved romantic drama The Notebook. Now, 20 years later, Gena Rowlands is sadly struggling with the same illness. “She’s in full dementia,” her son, Nick Cassavetes, who directed Gena in the film, told Entertainment Weekly. “It’s so crazy — we lived it, she acted it, and now it’s on us.”

The role hit close to home for Gena, whose mother also had Alzheimer’s. “If Nick hadn’t directed the film, I don’t think I would have gone for it — it’s just too hard,” the actress, 94, said at the time. “It was a tough but wonderful movie.” Gena, whose decades-long career includes Oscar-nominated roles in such films as A Woman Under the Influence and Gloria, has been spending her days surrounded by love. Her husband of 12 years, Robert Forrest, and the three children from her first marriage, to director John Cassavetes, are her support and strength.


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