The Notebook's Gena Rowlands Who Played Older Allie Has Alzheimer's Disease In Real Life; Son Says She's In 'Full Dementia'

Gena Rowlands has suffered the same fate as her character in The Notebook! Her son and the film's director revealed that she is in "full dementia!"

Published on Jun 25, 2024  |  11:09 PM IST |  34K
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Gena Rowlands in The Notebook (via YouTube/Warner Bros.)

It’s strange when the lines blur between real life and movies!

Gena Rowlands, who played the older version of Rachel McAdams’s character in The Notebook, is suffering from Alzheimer's, just like Allie in the cult classic film. Her son and the film’s director, Nick Cassavetes, weighs in on the “crazy” coincidence. 

 

Gena Rowlands is battling Alzheimer’s disease and dementia

In a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly, Cassavetes, who directed his mother in the iconic romantic film, revealed the shocking news. He told the outlet that he spent a lot of time with his mother talking about Alzheimer's and portraying it authentically in the film. 

Now, for the last five years, she has been diagnosed with a progressive disease. "She's in full dementia. And it's so crazy — we lived it, she acted it, and now it's on us," the filmmaker said. 

Alzheimer’s is one of the most common forms of dementia that affects 70% of the 55 million people with dementia globally. According to the National Institute on Aging, the disease is a "combination of age-related changes in the brain, along with genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors." Approximately 6.5 million people (65 or older) in the United States suffer from the disorder, according to Mayo Clinic. 

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When Rowlands spoke about playing Allie in The Notebook

In an interview with O Magazine in 2004, the actress admitted that she hesitated to play Allie in the film after experiencing the disease in close quarters with her mother. “This last one — The Notebook, based on the novel by Nicholas Sparks — was particularly hard because I play a character who has Alzheimer's. I went through that with my mother,” she said at the time. 

Rowlands, 94, added that she would not have played the role if his son had not directed it. After two nominations, she was awarded the Honorary Academy Award in 2015. 

Recalling her experience on The Notebook, which recently turned 20, she said, “It was a tough but wonderful movie.” Cassavetes echoed her sentiments and told EW that the movie “holds up pretty good” even after two decades. 

"It's always a shock to hear that as much time has gone by as it has, but it makes sense. I'm just happy that it exists," he added. The 2004 film that starred McAdams and Ryan Gosling as the leads is etched into the history of romantic movies and will always remain timeless!

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