John Cassavetes: Charismatic Filmmaker and Cats

John Cassavetes — was a Greek American actor director. His notable works as an actor are The Dirty Dozen (1967) and Rosemary’s Baby (1968). Cassavetes was a highly influential director of independent films that included Shadows (1959), Faces (1968), Husbands (1970) and A Woman Under the Influence (1974). He had a funny cat episode with him.

John Cassavetes

john cassavetes portrait

John Cassavetes portrait (

John Cassavetes was born on December 9, 1929, in New York City. The young Cassavetes spent many of his early years in Greece and upon returning New York, he spoke no English. Initially interested in acting, Cassavetes rose to prominence as a directorial debut with critically acclaimed Shadows (1959). The film, which depicted an interracial relationship and created on a shoestring budget, was inspired by an improvisation exercise taught in Cassavetes’s acting workshop founded several years prior.

Clean up the Cats’ Mess

John Cassavetes with a cat

John Cassavetes with a cat (Tumblr)

There’s a funny episode of Cassavetes with cats. Since he was making film independently, more than often times he asked his friends to participate his film without guarantee. Once, he asked Charlie Mingus, one of his friends, to make music for six months without compensation. Well, that compensation come later, though.

Charlie said to Cassavetess Listen, man, would you do me a favor? You have got to do something for me. Sure, sure. Cassavetes expected this. Listen, I’ve got all these cats that are shitting all over the floor. Can you have a couple of your people to come up and clean the cat shit? I can’t work; they shit all over my music. So Cassavetes and his people went up with scrubbing brushes and cleaned up the thing. The funny thing is Charlie sais I can’t work in this place. It’s so clean. I’ve got to wait for the cats to shit. Finally they got it together (!) and started recording.

Godfather of Independent Film

John Cassavetes holding a camera on his set

Director John Cassavetes on the set of his film, A WOMAN UNDER THE INFLUENCE (1974). (CINEPHILIA and FILMMAKING)

Cassavetes was a true independent director, who expressed what he wanted to express without any interference from sponsors. Therefore, he had to make money by acting and once he put his house in mortgage to fund his own movies.

I won’t call my work entertainment. It’s exploring. It’s asking questions of people, constantly. ‘How much do you feel? How much do you know? Are you aware of this? Can you cope with this?’ A good movie will ask you questions you don’t already know the answers to. Why would I want to make a film about something I already understand?

John Cassavetes Quotes (Brainy Quote)

Cassavetes on Cassavetes

John Cassavetes ditrecting the film Husbands

John Cassavetes ditrecting “Husbands” (CINEPHILIA and FILMMAKING)

Cassavetes died on February 3, 1989 at the age of 59, in Los Angels, California. At the time of his death, Cassavetes had amassed a collection of more than forty unproduced screenplays.

Cassavetes is among the most influential American directors of the 20th century, lauded as a pioneer of independent cinema and nuanced, character-driven work. Cassacetes on Cassavetes is a collection of interviews collected by scholar Ray Carney in which the filmmaker expounds upon his influences and his experiences in the industry.

John Cassavetes looking into a camera


Jean-Luc Godard, Martin scorsese, Wim Wenders show respect for Cassavetes. His belief, his style, his essence keeps inspiring other artists.

You can defeat fear through humor, through pain, through honesty, bravery, intuition, and through love in the truest sense.

John Cassavetes Quotes (Brainy Quote)

Originally published at Johnny Times.

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