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Actress Gena Rowlands is set to receive a Career Achievement Award from the L.A. Film Critics Association and Lifetime Achievement Award from the Savannah Film Festival.
According to association President Stephen Farber, Rowlands‘ career has spanned almost six decades and crashed through stereotypes written for women to portray. “Gena Rowlands gave us women who lived every moment with a fierce, sometimes terrifying individuality.”
Farber adds that “Rowlands revolutionized the art of screen acting, particularly for the female actors who followed in her footsteps.”
Born Virginia Cathryn Rowlands in Madison, Wisconsin, she grew up in a political family, where her father was a state legislator. She later studied at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City, where she would meet her future husband.
She married actor-director John Cassavetes in 1954. The duo would work together on ten films before his death in 1989. Of those films, A Woman Under the Influence (1975) and Gloria (1981) would each earn her an Academy Award nomination. A Wonder Under the Influence did net her a Golden Globe, along with The Betty Ford Story (1987).
And Cassavetes did write A Wonder Under the Influence for Gena. BFI attributes a quote to the director, where he says the marriage brought together two people “coming from two different family groups that were diametrically opposed and yet still regarded each other very highly.” Even saying that the two are “absolutely dissimilar in everything we think, do and feel.”
For her part, the actress can look back at the personal drama off-screen and see the value of the intentional manipulation. “John encouraged you to the point that you pushed yourself into areas you feared with other directors.”
She’s also earned an Emmy for The Betty Ford Story, Faces of a Stranger (1991), Hysterical Blindness (2003) and the Incredible Mrs. Ritchie (2004). Gloria would later be remade in 1999, starring Sharon Stone in the lead role.
Rowlands will make history when receiving the award as well. Variety notes that since Cassavetes received the award in 1986, they’re the only husband-wife duo in the organization’s nearly 40-year history.
The award ceremony will also honor critic Leonard Maltin for nearly 40 years of dedicated service.
And on Oct. 30, Rowlands will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Savannah Film Festival. The 84-year-old will sit with son Nick Cassavetes while participating in a question and answer session afterward a screening of Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks and the Notebook.
Other notable recipients are Matt Bomer (The Normal Heart) and Renee Zellwegger (Bridge Jones’ Diary), both receiving a Spotlight Award. Tickets and information to the Savannah event are available at www.savannahboxoffice.com.