When actress Gena Rowlands arrived in Hollywood in the 1950s, she could easily have opted to take the Hollywood starlet route. But she shared a creative vision with filmmaker and husband John Cassavetes; preferring instead to use her stunning, camera-loving facial features and natural acting style in unglamorous roles in groundbreaking independent films that launched an entire movement. Devoted to the idea of unearthing complex human emotions rather than painting characters with a one-dimensional Hollywood brush, Rowlands was a key factor in Cassavetes' low budget, documentary-style dramas "Faces" (1968), "A Woman Under the Influence" (1974) and "Opening Night" (1977). Whether playing a suburban housewife or a successful entertainer, Rowlands took risks with unconventional characters who dared to look inwards and question the unfulfilled promises of the status quo. From her acclaimed, Oscar-nominated roles on the 1970s art house circuit, Rowlands spent her later career lending authenticity to more mainstream fare, with Golden Globe and Emmy-winning roles as eccentric mothers and middle-aged women in crisis in television movies and theatrical releases.