“When you feel loved, you’re liable to do some of your better work,” says Gena Rowlands in a new interview for Academy Originals, a web video series produced by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The incomparable actress, who has delivered some of the most breathtaking and powerful on-screen performances of the past century, will receive an honorary Oscar at the Academy's seventh annual Governors Awards ceremony this Saturday, highlights of which will be broadcast during the Oscars ceremony in February.
In the interview, conducted to commemorate this occasion, Rowlands offers a rare glimpse into her brilliant career and explores a range of topics, from how reading books as a child influenced her desire to become an actress to her groundbreaking work with her husband and collaborator John Cassavetes. For instance, Rowlands explains that although playing the emotionally turbulent Mabel Longhetti in A Woman Under the Influence represented her most challenging role, the experience (and Cassavetes’s approach to her interpretation of the character) also gave her a “wonderful feeling of freedom” that she’s carried with her for the rest of her career. Watch the full interview above—and below, enjoy a video essay by critic Sheila O’Malley, produced for our release of the 1984 film Love Streams, which explores Rowlands’s tremendous performance in that film.