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The Notebook's Gena Rowlands Is in 'Full Dementia' 20 Years After Playing 'Old Allie', Son Confirms: 'She Acted It...Now It's on Us'

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Jun. 25 2024, Published 1:23 p.m. ET

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Gena Rowlands, 94, famously played the older version of Allie in the romance classic The Notebook.

20 years later, her son and the film's director, Nick Cassavetes, confirmed his mother has been fighting her own dementia battle that is painfully reminiscent of the character she brought to life in 2004.

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Gena Rowlands has been battling dementia for five years.

"I got my mom to play older Allie, and we spent a lot of time talking about Alzheimer's and wanting to be authentic with it, and now, for the last five years, she's had Alzheimer's," Cassavetes revealed to a news outlet.

"She's in full dementia," he added. "And it's so crazy — we lived it, she acted it, and now it's on us."

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the notebook gena rowlands dementia  years nick cassavetes
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Gena Rowlands famously played the role of Older Allie in 'The Notebook'.

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In a 2004 interview, Rowlands shared that she'd had experience with the disease due to her own mom's fight against dementia.

"I went through that with my mother, and if Nick hadn't directed the film, I don't think I would have gone for it," she admitted while speaking with O Magazine. "It's just too hard. It was a tough but wonderful movie."

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Gena Rowlands is 94 years old.

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A veteran actress, Rowlands had been performing on television and in film since the mid 1950s until her final role in 2017. Aside from The Notebook, she is known for her work in The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, A Woman Under the Influence, Hope Floats and The Skeleton Key.

She's also been featured as a guest star in a number of popular television shows, including Monk and NCIS.

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Gena Rowlands' first television role was in the 1950s.

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Cassavetes recalled a moment while filming The Notebook when he had to inform the Hollywood starlet that they needed to reshoot the scene where she remembers who she is and sees older Noah, played by James Garner. The filmmaker explained she reportedly hadn't cried enough in the initial take.

"She said, 'Let me get this straight. We're reshooting because of my performance?'" the director shared. "We go to reshoots, and now it's one of those things where mama's pissed and I had asked her, 'Can you do it, mom?' She goes, 'I can do anything.'"

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"I promise you, on my father's life, this is true," he continued. "Teardrops came flying out of her eyes when she saw [Garner], and she burst into tears. And I was like, okay, well, we got that... It's the one time I was in trouble on set."

Cassavetes spoke with Entertainment Weekly about his mother's condition.

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