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Gena Rowlands, star of ‘The Notebook,’ is living with Alzheimer’s

By Marianne Garvey, CNN

(CNN) — Gena Rowlands has Alzheimer’s, her son, director Nick Cassavetes has revealed.

Cassavetes shared the news in a conversation with Entertainment Weekly about the 20th anniversary of their film, “The Notebook.”

Rowlands, an acclaimed two-time Oscar-nominated actress with more than 100 film and television credits, was directed by her son in “The Notebook” in which she played the older version of the lead character, Allie, as she was living with Alzheimer’s in the story.

“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 told the publication. “She’s in full dementia. And it’s so crazy — we lived it, she acted it, and now it’s on us.”

Rowlands’ own mother also struggled with the disease.

“This last one — The Notebook, based on the novel by Nicholas Sparks — was particularly hard because I play a character who has Alzheimer’s,” Rowlands told O magazine in 2004. “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 — it’s just too hard. It was a tough but wonderful movie.”

CNN had reached out to representatives for Cassavetes and Rowlands for further comment.

According to the National Institute on Aging, “Alzheimer’s disease is a brain disorder that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills.” It is the most common cause of dementia among older adults.

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