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.