Gena Rowlands

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 ... Read more »
Born: 06/18/1930 in Cambria, Wisconsin, USA


Actor (80)

Parts Per Billion 2014 (Movie)

Esther (Actor)

Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks 2014 (Movie)

Lily Harrison (Actor)

Olive 2011 (Movie)

Tess M Powell (Actor)

Yellow 2011 (Movie)

Mimi (Actor)

Monk 2009 (Tv Show)


Broken English 2007 (Movie)

Vivien Wilder-Mann (Actor)

Paris, I Love You 2007 (Movie)

("Quartier Latin") (Actor)

Persepolis 2007 (Movie)

Voice of Marjane's Grandmother (Actor)

Numb3rs 2006 (Tv Show)


The Skeleton Key 2005 (Movie)

Violet (Actor)

Taking Lives 2004 (Movie)

Mrs Asher (Actor)

The Notebook 2004 (Movie)

Allie Calhoun (Actor)

Women on Top: Hollywood and Power 2003 - 2004 (TV Show)


The 3rd Annual Family Television Awards 2000 - 2001 (TV Show)


Anything For John 1999 - 2000 (TV Show)


The Color of Love: Jacey's Story 1999 - 2000 (TV Show)


The Weekend 2000 (Movie)

Laura (Actor)

Grace & Glorie 1998 - 1999 (TV Show)


Ljuset Haller Mig Sallskap 1999 (Movie)


Hope Floats 1998 (Movie)

Ramona Calvert (Actor)

Paulie 1998 (Movie)

Ivy (Actor)

Playing By Heart 1998 (Movie)

Hannah (Actor)

The Mighty 1998 (Movie)

Gram (Actor)

Edward G. Robinson: Little Big Man 1996 - 1997 (TV Show)


She's So Lovely 1997 (Movie)

Miss Green (Actor)

The Neon Bible 1996 (Movie)

Aunt Mae (Actor)

Unhook the Stars 1996 (Movie)

Mildred (Actor)

American Cinema 1994 - 1995 (TV Show)


Something to Talk About 1995 (Movie)

Georgia King (Actor)

Champlin on Film 1989 - 1992 (TV Show)


Night on Earth 1992 (Movie)

Victoria Snelling (Actor)

A Woman Under the Influence 1991 (Movie)

Mabel Longhetti (Actor)

Once Around 1991 (Movie)

Marilyn Bella (Actor)

Ted & Venus 1991 (Movie)

Linda's Mother (Actor)

Montana 1989 - 1990 (TV Show)


Another Woman 1988 (Movie)

Marion (Actor)

Faerie Tale Theatre 1982 - 1987 (TV Show)


Light of Day 1987 (Movie)

Jeanette Rasnick (Actor)

Love Streams 1984 (Movie)

Sarah Lawson (Actor)

Tempest 1982 (Movie)

Antonia Dimitrious (Actor)

Gloria 1980 (Movie)

Gloria Swenson (Actor)

Opening Night 1979 (Movie)

Myrtle Gordon (Actor)

The Brink's Job 1978 (Movie)

Mary Pino (Actor)

Two-Minute Warning 1976 (Movie)

Janet (Actor)

Ghost Story 1972 - 1973 (TV Show)


Minnie and Moskowitz 1971 (Movie)

Minnie Moore (Actor)

Machine Gun McCain 1970 (Movie)

Rosemary Scott (Actor)

Peyton Place 1964 - 1969 (TV Show)


Faces 1968 (Movie)

Jeannie Rapp (Actor)

Tony Rome 1967 (Movie)

Rita Kosterman (Actor)

The Lloyd Bridges Show 1962 - 1963 (TV Show)


87th Precinct 1961 - 1962 (TV Show)


Lonely Are the Brave 1962 (Movie)

Jerri Bondi (Actor)

A Child Is Waiting 1961 (Movie)

Sophie Widdicombe (Actor)

The Spiral Road 1961 (Movie)

Els (Actor)

Studio One 1948 - 1958 (TV Show)


The High Cost of Loving 1958 (Movie)

Virginia Fry (Actor)

A Question of Love (TV Show)


An Early Frost (TV Show)


Best Friends For Life (TV Show)


Charms For the Easy Life (TV Show)


Crazy in Love (TV Show)


Edge of Outside (TV Show)


Face of a Stranger (TV Show)


Hysterical Blindness (TV Show)


Parallel Lives (TV Show)


Silent Cries (TV Show)


The Betty Ford Story (TV Show)


The Book of Joe (Movie)


The Color of Love (TV Show)


The Incredible Mrs. Ritchie (TV Show)


Thursday's Child (TV Show)


What if God Were The Sun? (TV Show)


Wild Iris (TV Show)

Music (1)

Love Streams 1984 (Movie)

("Love Streams Operetta") (Song Performer)
Writer (1)

Paris, I Love You 2007 (Movie)

("Quartier Latin") (Screenplay)


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.


John Cassavetes Actor

Married April 9, 1954 until his death Feb. 3, 1989

Zoe R Cassavetes Actor

Born June 29, 1970; father, John Cassavetes Directed mother in "Broken English" (2007)

Xan Cassavetes Actor

Born Sept. 21, 1965; father, John Cassavetes

Nick Cassavetes Actor

Born May 21, 1959; father, John Cassavetes Directed mother in "The Notebook" (2004)

Robert Forrest


Mary Neal

Appeared in daughter's film "Minnie and Moskowitz" (1971) Died May 28, 1999 at age 94

Edwin Rowlands

Former Wisconsin State Senator

David Rowlands



American Academy of Dramatic Arts

New York , New York 1950 - 1951

University of Wisconsin

Madison , Wisconsin 1947 - 1950



Earned an Emmy nomination for her guest starring role as a moderately compulsive surrogate mother to the main character on an episode of "Monk" (USA Network)


Co-starred in daughter Zoe Cassavetes' directorial debut "Broken English"


Portrayed a terminally ill woman in the Lifetime original movie "What if God Were the Sun?"; earned Emmy and SAG nominations for Best Actress in a Miniseries or TV Movie


Starred opposite Kate Hudson in the supernatural thriller the "Skeleton Key"


Starred opposite James Garner in "The Notebook," directed by son Nick Cassavetes


Cast in the thriller "Taking Lives"


Acted in "Hysterical Blindness" (HBO); screened at Sundance; received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Supporting Actress


Played Brooke Shields' overbearing mother in the independent film "The Weekend"


Earned fourth career Emmy nomination playing a Southern grandmother in "The Color of Love: Jacey's Story" (CBS)


Had featured role in "The Mighty"


Starred as Sandra Bullock's mother in "Hope Floats"


Appeared in the ensemble drama "Playing by Heart"


Co-starred with Diane Lane in the TV version of the stage play "Grace & Glorie" (CBS)


Again directed by son in "She's So Lovely," a previously un-produced screenplay by John Cassavetes


Directed by son Nick Cassavetes in "Unhook the Stars"; won critical praise as a widow who befriends her neighbor's son


Cast as Julia Roberts' mother in "Something to Talk About"


Delivered a fine turn as the eccentric Southern aunt of a young boy in "The Neon Bible"


Picked up second Emmy Award as a Manhattan socialite who befriends a homeless woman in the CBS TV-movie "Face of a Stranger"


Played a cab passenger driven by Winona Ryder in Jim Jarmusch's "Night on Earth"


Starred in Woody Allen's "Another Woman" as sheltered woman forced to confront her life choices


Won an Emmy for her portrayal of the former First Lady in the ABC biopic "The Betty Ford Story"


Cast as the mother of an AIDS-stricken lawyer in "An Early Frost"; received first Emmy nomination


Last feature collaboration with Cassavetes, "Love Streams"


Acted opposite Cassavetes in Paul Mazursky's "Tempest," a loose re-working of Shakespeare's play


Picked up second Best Actress Oscar nomination as a gun moll in "Gloria"


Teamed with Bette Davis, playing Davis' estranged daughter in the CBS drama "Strangers: The Story of a Mother and a Daughter"


First TV-movie, played lesbian fighting for custody of her children in "A Question of Love" (ABC)


Offered a nuanced turn as a troubled actress in "Opening Night"; film only released for Oscar consideration in L.A.; screened at the New York Film Festival in 1988; released theatrically in 1991


Starred opposite Peter Falk in Cassavetes' "A Woman Under the Influence"; earned Best Actress Oscar nomination


Won acclaim for her role in Cassavetes' "Faces"


Featured as Adrienne Van Leyden on ABC nighttime soap opera "Peyton Place"


First collaboration with Cassavetes as director, "A Child Is Waiting"


Played regular role on "87th Precinct" (NBC)


Film acting debut, "The High Cost of Loving"


Starred on Broadway in "Middle of the Night" with Edward G. Robinson


Made debut as TV regular on the syndicated series "Top Secret USA"


Appeared in off-Broadway production of "Dangerous Corner"


Made Broadway debut as understudy for the role of The Girl in "The Seven Year Itch"; later assumed part


Was mistress of ceremonies in "All About Love" at the Versailles Night Club Theatre in Manhattan


Moved to NYC to attend AADA

Won scholarship to study at Jarvis Repertory Theatre in Washington, DC

Born and raised in Wisconsin

Worked off-Broadway at the Provincetown Playhouse and in stock

Bonus Trivia


"I don't see how anyone has the patience to direct anything. I know it's a question of temperament but to me it would be torture. People ask you questions all day long, and not particularly interesting ones."The art director is saying, 'Do you think that the colour of this suit is all right?', and the photographer is saying, 'I think we should gel the windows', and an actor is saying, 'I don't want to wear make-up.' These are questions that would make me want to shoot myself in the head. Not creative, wonderful questions about your character. So you have to have extreme love and patience, and I don't have that." – Rowlands to the London Times, July 3, 1997


"Their personalities are not alike. John's much more volatile and all over the place – noisier too. Nick is a bit quieter. He handles everything with humor. But one thing I notice is that they both adore actors and have the utmost patience with them. I was happy to see that and, believe me, it's not always the case."The main difference is that there was no improvisation in Nick's film. One day I didn't get one of the lines quite right. It would have passed in most places. But Nick is very precise about language. John, on the other hand, dictated his scripts. He very seldom wrote them down. He had a writing secretary who was with him for many years. It always amazed me. He had the most formidable memory I have ever encountered." – Rowlands on the differences between being directed by her husband and her son, to the London Times July 7, 1997


"Glamour was NEVER my game. I just HATE that thing about beauty. There's always someone out there better looking or worse looking. Beauty and glamour are not real things. To depend on them is very hard on anyone, but particularly hard for attractive girls." – Rowlands quoted in W, May 1998


"I'd never worked with Gena so it was a golden opportunity. We've both had a similar pattern of experiences as actors." – "Playing by Heart" co-star Sean Connery to The Boston Globe, Jan. 17, 1999


"I think now that I look back on it, the key was we were both so obsessed about wanting the same thing. We also just had a natural chemistry between the two of us, which was so apparent at the beginning and lasted until the end. No one believed in me more as an artist than my husband did." – Rowlands on her marriage to John Cassavetes, to Cindy Pearlman of The Chicago SunTimes Jan. 21, 1999


"I love independent filmmaking. I don't agree with a lot of it, but that's not the point. People in independent film have a passion; they're not in it for the money. I'm very proud that John [Cassavetes] had a part in it." – Rowlands quoted in Premiere's "Women in Hollywood" issue (1999)


"Mostly what I've always done are smaller films. But I don't think that a bigger budget film means that there's a lesser degree of quality, necessarily. I think that's a real fallacy. I'll always go where the best work is." – Rowlands to Venice, August 2005