John Nicholas Cassavetes (; December 9, 1929 – February 3, 1989) was a Greek-American actor, film director, and screenwriter. Cassavetes was a pioneer of American independent film, writing and directing over a dozen movies, which he partially self-financed, and pioneered the use of improvisation and a realistic cinéma vérité style. He also acted in many Hollywood films, notably Rosemary's Baby (1968) and The Dirty Dozen (1967). He studied acting with Don Richardson, using an acting technique based on muscle memory. His income from acting made it possible for him to direct his own films independently.
Cassavetes was nominated for three separate Academy Awards: Best Supporting Actor for The Dirty Dozen (1967), Best Original Screenplay for Faces (1968) and Best Director for A Woman Under the Influence (1974).
His children Nick Cassavetes, Zoe Cassavetes, and Xan Cassavetes are also filmmakers.
Cassavetes died from cirrhosis of the liver on February 3, 1989, at the age of 59. He was survived by Rowlands and three children (Nick, Alexandra and Zoe). Cassavetes is buried at Westwood Village Memorial Park cemetery in Los Angeles.
At the time of his death, Cassavetes had amassed a collection of more than 40 unproduced screenplays, as well as a novel, Husbands. He also left three unproduced plays: Sweet Talk, Entrances and Exits and Begin the Beguine. But Begin the Beguine, in German translation, was co-produced by Needcompany of Belgium and Burgtheater of Vienna; it premiered on stage at Vienna’s Akademietheater in 2014.
Cassavetes is the subject of several books about the actor/filmmaker's life. Cassavetes on Cassavetes is a collection of interviews collected or conducted by Boston University film scholar Ray Carney, in which the filmmaker recalled his experiences, influences and outlook on the film industry. In the Oscar 2005 edition of Vanity Fair magazine, one article features a tribute to Cassavetes by three members of his stock company, Rowlands, Ben Gazzara and Peter Falk.