#SAVFF: Gena Rowlands | Local film | Savannah News, Events, Restaurants, Music
MILLENNIUMS HAVE KNOWN IT FOR Notebook, where she co-starred as a fellow senior citizen against the late James Garner. Serious moviegoers know Gena Rowlands as one of the most influential actresses of modern times.
In her prime, she was as stunningly beautiful as any woman on the big screen. But instead of relying solely on her looks, she, along with her husband and frequent director, the late John Cassavetes, exploited a whole new style of emotionally vulnerable realism that formed the basis of the new wave of American cinema in the 1970s. .
In addition to many other accolades over the course of her career, she has been nominated for two Oscars, most notably for her groundbreaking work in Cassavetes’ A woman under the influence, featuring a charismatic but troubled young wife.
His latest film is Six dance lessons in six weeks, with Cheyenne Jackson. She plays the role of a retiree who finds an unlikely friend, an openly gay dance teacher, late in life.
Rowlands will attend the Savannah Film Festival to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award. We spoke to him last week.
I would be remiss if I didn’t start by asking you what you think of Jim Garner, who passed away earlier this year. We will all miss him.
Gena Rowlands: I liked it. Everyone loved Jim. He was a great guy, he could do anything. People think of him as a brilliant comedic actor, and he’s done so many comedies and he’s so good at it. But in Notebook, look how serious and touching he was.
It’s even hard to say his name at this point. He was as good as he could get.
So many late-career actors opt for extras and cameos. But you had a prolific career until your 70s and 80s, in full-fledged roles playing fully realized characters.
Gena Rowlands: I can understand those who have taken a different path from mine. There aren’t many parts written for people my age. In fact, when you’ve done as many things as I did at my age, you have the privilege of leading so many different lives!
I have to say I’m so sick of most of the movies they make today. If I see one more vampire! But if people want to watch it, why not? It just doesn’t appeal to me.
There has been a real renaissance in independent cinema lately.
Gena Rowlands: There are, and I’m happy to see it. When John (Cassavetes) and I started it was very difficult to make a movie that you wanted to make, there was no room to show it. Everything was managed by the studios and the distributors.
Today, it is a whole different configuration. There really weren’t any festivals back then – certainly not big ones anyway, not where you could reach a lot of people in different parts of the country. Then there are all the new cameras and technologies, which I know very little about (Laughs).
It might just open up a whole new world. It could make people a little more serious, make films more interesting and not just made for 10-15 year olds. Not that they shouldn’t have something to like, too.
Movies are such a powerful medium. There is nothing quite like sitting in a room with lots of other people. I like to watch a movie this way.
Do you always do that?
Gena Rowlands: I do! And the audience will surprise you. Sometimes they’ll laugh in a place where you thought they should be crying. You can’t experience these things at a private screening.
You could easily have built a successful career just on the looks. But instead, you always seemed to be looking for difficult and troubled characters. Very imperfect and emotionally complex people.
Gena Rowlands: I’m still much more interested in playing a real person. My characters all have issues, but again, we all have them. The challenge is how you face them, how you solve them. That’s the great thing about acting: you’re not just stuck with yourself! You lead many lives. Thanks to these people, you become aware of what makes you work. It makes you think. It’s so much more interesting.
I don’t think there is enough of this kind of written image. Writers are really pissed off. They can write something absolutely perfect, but there are so many people telling them what to do and how to change the script. There are too many hands in it. The movie industry has never been easy for writers.
It makes your accomplishments with John as a writer / director even more impressive, really.
Gena Rowlands: John was such a great talent. Things meant so much to him. He never wrote thinking about what others would say and judge him for. He always wrote down what he thought and what was meaningful. And he wrote beautifully. It was always very easy to work with him on that basis.
And you’ll be here with your son Nick, who made The Notebook.
Gena Rowlands: Nick is six feet six and a half, did you know? We always thought he would be a basketball player. It was certainly all that interested him during his teenage years. We never really thought about making movies for him until he actually started. I have to say Nick has always been a good writer too.
And of course I loved working with Jim on Notebook. Ryan Gosling was just great about it. And Rachel. They were serious and dedicated actors.
A whole new generation has discovered you thanks to The Notebook.
Gena Rowlands: Yeah, and I think it’s so funny! Funny how it all happened.
Everyone says it’s a girl’s movie. But what happened was the girls went to see him, and they liked him so much that they came home and said to their boyfriends and husbands, “You gotta come see this. film with me.
And the guys ended up liking it too! They would come out with tears streaming down their faces. It was very funny and very unexpected.